Cadel Evans Preview: Ewan, Winder Top List Of Favorites

Cadel Evans Preview: Ewan, Winder Top List Of Favorites

Expect a tough group of sprinters battling in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race

Jan 30, 2020 by Gregor Brown
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Expect a tough group of sprinters to battle for victory in Geelong when the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race ends this weekend.

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Expect a tough group of sprinters to battle for victory in Geelong when the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race ends this weekend.

The 'new' race now in its sixth year is the first one-day WorldTour race of 2020 and comes on the heels of the Tour Down Under. Many of the riders who raced in Adelaide, will travel southwest of Melbourne to Geelong – home of the 2011 World Championships – for Evans' race.

The women line up Saturday, February 1, and the men the next day. A select group sprint will most likely decide the races, based on the course and past editions.

The race first heads south and passes Barwon Heads, home of Evans, the first Australian Tour de France winner in 2011. It travels through Torquay and the start of the Great Ocean Road before heading inland back to Geelong.

The men and women ride the same starting loop, with the men completing four local circuits in Geelong before their finish.


The main point once back in Geelong is Challambra Crescent, a climb halfway in the finishing circuit that was key to the 2010 Worlds that Thor Hushovd won. The men will climb that four times and the women once before bombing down to the finish along the coast.

The Challambra climb rises over 1.2km, averaging 9%, with heavier gradients (15 to 20%) near the top. It leaves just 9km to race. Given the smooth bends and wide suburban roads, it’s hard to crack the sprinters. Richie Porte tried and so did Diego Ulissi in 2019.

The road is fast, but spacious back down. Lucas Hamilton turned the screw here last year but could not gap the group for Mitchelton team-mate Daryl Impey. More heavy hitters, working in unison will be needed to cause a permanent crack. Doing that over the following 2.5km and the next smaller kicker could do it this year.

The past editions have all seen different scenarios. Last year, Cuban Arlenis Sierra soloed clear to win, after dropping Amanda Spratt and gapping Lucy Kennedy in a corener. The men's race ended in a bunch sprint topped by Elia Viviani.

So early into the year, it is hard to know who's hot and who's not, but the Tour Down Under, specifically the Stirling stage with its uphill power finish, gives us a good indicator of who could be celebrating this weekend in Geelong.

Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal)

Out of the favorites, I'm betting my Italian lira on Caleb Ewan to survive the punches on the Challambra Crescent and deliver the decisive blow. He won the Stirling stage and was clearly the best sprinter of the week. He has the momentum carrying him through the the support of the home fans.


Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick Step)

Bennett did not travel so far just to burn his fair skin, the Irishman will want more than one sprint win from the Tour Down Under to show for his journey. Sure, he is building form for the season, but he and the almighty Deceuninck-Quick Step will want something more. If Ewan falters then bet on Bennett.


Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott)

The South African placed second to Ewan on the Stirling stage last week and is the rouleur-type rider suited perfectly to the hard climbs and fast finish. Just think back to his Tour de France stage win in Brioude last year.


Ruth Winder (Trek-Segafredo)

Look no further than the US National Champion if you want to pick a winner for the women's race. Her Stirling stage win paved the way to her Tour Down Under overall title. She has the perfect climbing and sprint mix to win this WorldTour event.


Chloe Hosking (Rally Cycling)

Hosking packs way more punch. If the race is not as aggressive, and ends in a bunch, then I'll shift my allegiance from Winder to Hosking, the 2018 race winner.


Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott)

The Australian will deliver if we have an aggressive race that breaks apart early while climbing inland back to to Geelong. She has the climbing legs to survive the attacks on the Challambra Crescent and the race know-how – winner in 2016 and third in 2019 – to win.