Having started at UCI 1.1 status in its first year, rising to HC level for its second edition, the race organisers of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race are celebrating its new found WorldTour status for its third edition in 2017 to be held Saturday, January 28.
Created to honour the legacy of Cadel Evans, the 174km Geelong one-day race will become Australia's second WorldTour event after the Tour Down Under and first one-day WorldTour event on the updated and expanded 2017 calendar.
"I am absolutely delighted that our vision has been realised and Australia now has its own modern one-day classic," Evans said of the UCI announcement to grant a three year WorldTour license. "For world cycling this means the classic season will now start in Geelong on January 29, 2017. And, our race will become a critical part of the season with teams and individuals vying for early season points in order to set up their entire year.
"To have such an important race showcase a beautiful region that feels like my 'cycling backyard' is something I am very proud of."
The 2017 Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race will remain unchanged from the 2016 route, as will the women's 113 km race to be held on Saturday 28 January.
UCI Vice President Tracey Gaudry also welcomed the announcement which was symbolic of the continuing growth of cycling in Australia.
"To have the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race join the UCI WorldTour in only its third year is an exceptional achievement and is fantastic for the growth of the sport in this region," Gaudry said.
"The Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race is testimony to cycling's pinnacle series being truly global, and cements Australia as one of the great locations for major cycling events outside Europe."
The announcement is also a major boost to the region as a whole explained the Victorian Minister for Tourism and Major Events, John Eren.
"The Cadel Evan Great Ocean Road Race is the country's first one-day cycling event to gain UCI WorldTour status. What's more, it's a game changer for the Geelong, Bellarine and Surf Coast regions," Eren said. "As more WorldTour teams descend on this spectacular part of our state and country in January 2017, the eyes of world cycling will see just how much this region has to offer."
The inaugural edition of the race, won by Gianni Meersman (Etixx-QuickStep), saw seven WorldTour teams line out in Geelong while nine WorldTour teams were in attendance for the 2016 edition with Team Sky's Peter Kennaugh taking the victory.
From 2017, all existing UCI WordTour events will have all UCI WorldTeams participating although for the new UCI WorldTour events, participation rules ensure that a minimum of 10 UCI WorldTeams to take part will be proposed by the UCI for approval at the next meeting of the Professional Cycling Council (PCC).