27 January 2019, Geelong (AUS)
CCC Team’s Australian season came to an end with the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race with Joey Rosskopf present in the front group, from which Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step) sprinted for the win.
The peloton allowed a three-rider breakaway (Laurens De Vreese – Astana Pro Team, Nathan Elliot and Carter Turnbull – Aus KordaMentha) to form as soon as the flag dropped at kilometer zero and once their advantage reached the four-minute mark, teams started to organize the chase.
As the peloton passed the feed zone at the halfway point, the gap was down to three minutes and as the breakaway ascended Challambra Crescent for the first of four times, another 30 seconds had been shaved off their advantage.
With two laps remaining, Nic Dlamini (Team Dimension Data) and Davide Ballerini (Astana Pro Team) jumped clear of the bunch in pursuit of the leaders who, at that point, were two minutes ahead of the peloton.
Behind, the difficulty of the short but steep climbs and multiple attacks saw the peloton significantly reduced as the climbers tried to make the race as difficult as possible to avoid a bunch sprint.
De Vreese broke clear and was later joined by Ballerini, who ended up leading the race solo with a one-minute advantage when the bell rang to indicate the final lap.
The bunch caught Ballerini on the final ascent of Challambra and despite attack after attack, the group came back together on the descent and the stage was set for a bunch sprint in Geelong.
Jakub Mareczko was unable to maintain contact on the second-to-last lap and Szymon Sajnok battled to rejoin the bunch after a wheel change at the foot of the climb on the penultimate lap, which left CCC Team with limited options in the finale.
A few last-minute attacks were neutralized and the 30-rider group, featuring Rosskopf, battled it out in the sprint with Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) and Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-SCOTT) completing the podium behind Viviani.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“I really liked the course. I think it suits me pretty well with a couple of steep climbs. Although, they raced it kind of easy until the last lap which helped me get around the circuit. The climbers weren’t really pushing it every lap which maybe would have worn more of us down. But, it was a nice circuit and it was cool to finish on the waterfront like this.”
“I was trying to find a balance between making it over the climb with the front group and doing more than I had to, so I went over with the front group but sort of at the back. So, immediately at the top, when we had a crosswind, the guys in front of me opened up a gap and I had to chase a little bit which put me at the back of the group for the next few kilometers. It was kind of a struggle to get into position for the sprint, or earlier. Ideally, I would have been up there earlier to take my chances in a late move but when it came down to the last two kilometers I knew I would just have to give it a shot in the sprint. Unfortunately, I felt really inexperienced at that as I’m not often in the position when I can sprint for myself. There were some good sprinters there but it was still a small group so it was pretty open. I definitely could have played it a bit better but that’s an experience thing. So, it was sort of a lost opportunity but also a learning experience.”
Jackson Stewart, Sports Director:
“You never know here if it will be a breakaway or a sprinters’ race but given how many sprinters are here, we thought it would probably come down to a bunch sprint again. We had a good chance with Jakub Mareczko but he had a tough last lap and then we tried to regroup with who could make the front group with all of the splits on the last few laps. We had Joey Rosskopf up there and of course, he’s not the top sprinter in that group but he gave it a go. I think we can learn a lot from today’s race which is always good.”
“Our time in Australia has still exceeded our expectations. The criterium in Melbourne didn’t go the way we wanted it to and we would have liked to do better today, but to win a stage in a WorldTour race like the Santos Tour Down Under was a great result. We can’t forget that we did that and we can leave Australia happy with the stage win and days in the leader’s jersey in Adelaide.”
Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race
Geelong > Geelong (163km)
Top 3: 1. Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step), 2. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal), 3. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-SCOTT).
CCC Team top 3: 24. Joey Rosskopf, 47. Łukasz Owsian, 48. Szymon Sajnok.
Photos courtesy of Cor Vos.