The Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race will have 12 WorldTour teams on the start line for the men's event in 2018.
The early season Australian one-day race, created in 2015, moved up to WorldTour status this year and attracted 13 of the 18 WorldTour teams. WorldTour teams aren't obliged to attend events that are new to cycling's top tier, but if a race fails to secure at least 10 WorldTour teams it risks losing its status.
Despite the drop, the race announced "the strongest line-up in the event's history" on Friday, with what it terms the "top five men's WorldTour teams" in BMC Racing Team, Team Sky, Trek-Segafredo, Team Sunweb and Quick-Step Floors.
The other WorldTour teams on the start line will be: AG2R La Mondiale, Bora-Hansgrohe, Dimension Data, Katusha-Alpecin, LottoNL-Jumbo, Lotto Soudal, and Mitchelton-Scott. The field of 16 teams will be rounded out by Pro Continental teams Aqua Blue Sport, Israel Cycling Academy, and Roompot, with the final team being an Australian national squad.
"You can see this race is so special to Cadel – so, to line up with his former team, and in one of the first races I'll be lining up for with BMC Racing Team, is going to be pretty cool," said 2017 runner-up Simon Gerrans, who has transferred to BMC from Orica-Scott this winter.
Former winners Peter Kennaugh (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Nikias Arndt (Sunweb) will both be back for the 2018 edition, which takes place over 164 kilometres in Geelong on January 28.
For the women's race, which takes place the same day, there will be 15 teams on the start line, in what the organisers are calling the "highest caliber of teams in the event's history".
Wiggle-High5, Mitchelton-Scott and WaowDeals Pro Cycling will all be there, along with Trek Drops, Ale Cipollini, Cylance Pro Cycling, Sho-Air Twenty20, Bepink, Team Virtu, Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank, and Holden Team Gusto. The field is rounded out by Australian domestic teams Specialized Women's Racing and Sydney Uni Staminade, along with national squads from Australia and New Zealand.
Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott), the 2017 champion, will be back to try and make it back-to-back wins.
"For the racing, I am very curious to see how both the women's and men's race unfold," said Cadel Evans. "In the past, we have had three completely different outcomes on the same course, so I am intrigued to see how the 2018 edition will be won."