Cadel Evans Road Race heats up

Simon Geschke (Cofidis), Chris Hamilton (Team DSM-Firmenich PostNL), Cadel Evans, Georgie Howe (Liv-AlUla-Jayco) and Ella Wyllie (Liv-AlUla-Jayco). (Ivan Kemp) 384554_04

The Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race is in full swing, with Geelong and the Bellarine gearing up for the elite women’s and men’s races this Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

Men’s rider Chris Hamilton (DSM), who hails from Bendigo, said his team was looking to repeat its win last year, when young Marius Mayrhofer claimed the shock victory for DSM after a hectic final sprint.

“Do the same as last year, that’s the ultimate goal; we’re here to win,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said it was a “really special” experience to compete in an elite-level event in his home state.

“My whole family can come and see me race, which never gets to happen anymore now that I’m living over in Europe,” he said.

The 2024 elite races, which wind from Geelong around the Bellarine and back again, see the course direction reversed from previous editions, which race director and course designer Scott Sunderland said was intended to provide a more interesting and exciting race for riders and spectators alike.

“We’ve gone anti-clockwise, and the main reason for that was in the previous years we often had the crosswinds which create echelons,” he said.

“My thought was to make it a little bit tougher in the beginning, so it’s trying to be enticing to those teams and riders who want to go on an early break. Then we’ve got the crosswinds more towards the latter part of the race instead of at the beginning.

“That last section as we hit Portarlington Road heading back, it’s straight, but if you just get the right wind direction that can create some serious echelons. The tactics are paramount in positioning yourself as a team but also positioning a leader in the front so that he doesn’t get caught out at the back of the race.”

Women’s rider Georgie Howe (Jayco–AlUla), last year’s women’s sprint classification winner, said her team had a strong “collective ambition”.

“We got 95 percent of the process right at (Tour Down Under last week), we’re just missing that last five percent to really get that end result, but we’re confident if we can focus on the process, tick all those boxes, the result is coming,” she said.