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The first one-day race of the season takes to the southern coast of Australia this weekend, with the women racing 121 kilometers on Saturday and the men tackling 171 on Sunday.
The short distances and reliably sunny skies are meant to fit nicely into the riders' early season preparations rather than to emulate the European Classics to come.
The finishing circuits featuring the climb of Challambra Crescent add just enough intrigue to the closing kilometers to open the race up to a surprise winner, like we saw last year in the women's edition.
Scroll through to see the riders who might upset the favorites in this weekend.
Leigh Ann Ganzar
Leigh Ann Ganzar took the American peloton by surprise in 2018 with a late race attack to win the professional criterium national title, as an amateur. Two years later, Ganzar finished her doctoral studies and joined Rally Cycling.
Her first outing with the team at the recently concluded Tour Down Under saw her fearless racing style make a similar splash in the international peloton. Her signature late race attack nearly earned her victory on stage three. Undeterred, she tried again in the Trek Night Riders Criterium later that week, which earned her first victory of the 2020 season.
The hard to control finale of the Great Ocean Road Race plays right into the hands of an opportunistic rider such as Ganzar. Keep an eye out for a bright orange Rally Jersey waiting to pounce.
FloBikes caught up with Ganzar after the Tour Down Under. Watch Ganzar take us through her heroic stage three breakaway here.
Arlenis Sierra took advantage of a disorganized Mitchelton-Scott team in the closing kilometers of the 2019 edition of the GORR. Sierra rode away from Lucy Kennedy to claim a surprise victory for the Astana Women’s Team. She went on to win the Pan American Championships, Cuban Nationals and the Women’s Giro Toscana. However, against a top international field of riders, she still remains relatively unproven.
The number one dossard will certainly be kept on a shorter leash this year. But following a string of consistent finishes at Tour Down Under, she may have the legs on Saturday to surprise once again.
Peta Mullens, the 2015 Australian National Champion is on some very promising form in 2020. Mullens has stepped away from European racing in recent years. She has instead become a fixture in the North American peloton during the summer months, featuring in criteriums and one-day road events.
This January, Mullens strung together an impressive streak of top ten finishes, earning her tenth overall at the Tour Down Under, and seventh at the Australian National Road Race. This marks her most successful outing in the WorldTour peloton in years, and earns her a spot as an outside favorite at Cadel’s GORR.
Simone Consonni turned heads at the Schwalbe Classic Criterium after he sprinted to the line for third place, despite being on leadout duty for his new teammate Elia Viviani. Following Viviani’s crash on stage two of the Tour Down Under, Consonni struck out on his own, earning second place on stage five, solidifying his standing as a certifiable sprint threat despite Cofidis’ pecking order of fast finishers.
Viviani has not shown many signs of life in the sprints following his crash. If Viviani does not contest the finish at GORR, a golden opportunity will fall into Consonni’s lap to assert himself as a reliable finisher.
Chris Lawless is a former British National Criterium Champion who is being groomed as a fast finisher on Team Ineos. Lawless won the Tour de Yorkshire in 2019, affirming his potential, but he has yet to win a WorldTour race. In a reduced bunch kick, Lawless could add a big result to his young palmares on Sunday.
The 2020 World Champion showed his strength and grit throughout the Tour Down Under, serving as an invaluable workhorse for eventual winner Richie Porte day in and day out.
Pedersen thrives in hard-man race situations, a fact which was clearly put on display in Yorkshire. The 171 kilometer GORR will likely not provide the Danish rider with many opportunities to outmuscle his tired rivals, however Trek Segafredo will repay Pedersen for his work at Tour Down Under with an opportunity to take his first victory in the rainbow bands.
Giacomo Nizzolo, the veteran Italian riding for NTT took a big win on stage five of the Tour Down Under. He went on to prove that the result was not a fluke by finishing second to Sam Bennet in Thursday’s Race Torquay. If the pure sprinters find themselves under pressure in the closing circuits on Sunday, Nizzolo will be in a strong position to capitalize.