Meersman wins Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race

Clarke and Haas round out podium with Evans in fifth place

In a small bunch finish of nine-riders, Gianni Meersman (Etixx-Quick-Step) outsprinted Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge) and Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin) to win the first edition of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. In his final race, Cadel Evans (BMC) finished in fifth place on the same time as Meersman. 

Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling) won the sprint from the second group on the road but it was Meersman who claimed the inaugural win in Geelong.

"The beginning was not so easy, there was a lot of wind and sometimes it was also raining," Meersman told reporters after his win. "I think when we arrived at the circuits, most of the peloton was already on the limit and we had three nice laps with steeps climbs. I think as a team we did a great job.

"I said I was feeling good and the team trusted me so I am really happy to have finished it off."

The nine-man group, containing Meersman, Haas, Clarke, Team Sky duo Peter Kennaugh and Luke Rowe, Evans and BMC teammate Danilo Wyss, Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha) and Moreno Moser (Cannondale-Garmin), had formed inside the final 10km but it was on the final climb of the day that the selection was made. Kennaugh launched the last of numerous attacks for the day and just as it looked like he might gain a quick 100 metre advantage, Moser came over the top of him to grab a six second lead ahead of the fast descent back into the finish line.

It wasn't to be Moser's day though as he was swept up in the final 3km and from there a sprint finish was inventible. Evans, at the back of the group, tried coming around but was hampered by cramps and could only watch as Meersman posted the earliest season win in his 10 year career and just second one-day race after the 2012 Trofeo Platja de Muro.

As the fastest finisher in the nine-rider group, Meersman explained that he didn't think victory was a foregone conclusion in the final 500m.

"When I looked behind me I saw the group coming so I really had to gamble and pull so I knew Nathan [Haas} was really quite fast as well so I had to be in his wheel and with the headwind, I had to time my effort well," Meersman said. "When Haas went, I saw the 150m sign so I went on the right side and happily I had the good legs.

"I think, it’s not because I won, but it is a really nice race … organisation was good, lots of people, the women’s race. It was really good."

For Evans, fifth place is the final result of a decorated 20 year career which saw him become the number one mountain biker and road racer in the world and the first Australian to win the Tour de France.

"I have to say – from a rider's point of view – I was very happy to make the front group today," Evans said. "It wasn't a very hilly race, but (had) windy conditions. It was a really solid, hard, aggressive race. I have to thank my competitors and also the crowd for spurring on all the competitors and the cheering ambiance. It made it nearly a classic."

The early stages

Starting on Geelong’s wet roads after an overnight deluge of rain, the race felt more like 'European' classic than day out under the Australian sun.
After early attempts to establish the breakaway, the peloton decided the trio of Michael Torckler (BudgetForklifts) and Darcy Woolley (African Wildlife) could go and then decided UCI race debutants, CharterMason-Giant would be allowed to let Josh Taylor join in.

As the rain fell and the wind begun to pick up, the break came back together with Brodie Talbot (BudgetForklifts) launching an attack 

Marco Frapporti (Androni), Woolley, Laurent Didier (Trek) and Taylor then formed a small 17 second led over peloton while behind the four riders, Harry Carpenter and Jacob Kaufmann tried to breach but to no avail. Talbot meanwhile continued to trie and make the break.

At the first sprint point of the day in Barwon Heads, Taylor took the win ahead of Woolley as the breakaway’s advantage had grown to 3:26 minutes. Having toiled away, Talbot made the catch as the five leaders’ advantage grew to a few seconds shy of five minutes.

Back in the bunch, BMC and Michael Hepburn (Orica-GreenEdge) were occupying the front of the peloton, content with proceedings.

At the second sprint point in Torquay, Frapporti got the better of Woolley with Taylor third as their advantage dropped down closer to four minutes.

On the first KOM of the day, Didier lost control of his bike having dropped back to the car for a bidon and fell, with a broken hand and wrist causing him to abandon. It was Talbot who secured maximum points at the KOM ahead of Woolley with the now four leaders enjoying a 4:30 minute buffer over the peloton.

With 100km to race, the gap had dropped down to 3:19 minutes as back in the bunch the chase was being led by Joel Strachan of Navitas-Satalyst at the average speed of 55km/h.

With the racing leaving the ocean and turning inward, the gap dropped down to 2:42 minutes at the 88km mark on Barrabool Road on the final stretch of road before the race made its way back into Geelong for the three 20.2km circuits.

Back in the peloton, Samuel Sánchez was prominent on the front of the bunch with BMC leading the chase.

When the tailwind turned cross wind, Cannondale-Garmin dropped the hammer and put the race in the gutter with all six riders trying to split the race in half at 82km. Having been caught out, Evans was quick to bridge the gap solo to ride to the front of the split.

Jack Bauer was the rider doing maximum damage with help from Trek, Mark Renshaw (Etixx-Quick Step). Also in that first group was Peter Kennaugh and Jesse Sergent.

The four man breakaway’s advantage was drastically being cut to just 1:20 minutes as the echelon tried to force itself clear of the unorganised peloton. With 100km to go, the break was caught by the first group on the road while riders were scrambling at the rear to keep in contact.

The gap back to the peloton was 52 seconds with 100km at this point with 17 riders up front: Danilo Wyss, Peter Kennaugh, Luke Rowe, Simon Clarke, Mark Renshaw, Nathan Haas, Moreno Moser, Jack Bauer, Alex Howes, Davide Villella, Matt Brammeier, Tyler Farrar, Jesse Sergent, Josh Taylor, Brodie Talbot, Darcy Woolley and Marco Frapporti.

With the front group caught, Peter Kennaugh was the first to try a counter attack on the fast crescent into Geelong. Clarke, Wyss and Hass then joined him on the 20% hill.

Kennaugh then launched another attack to go solo on the run into the finish start line on Eastern Beach.

The three circuits
Kennaugh, assuming a time trial position, lead the peloton over the line to start the first of three laps around Geelong with a small front group just seconds behind. With the remnants of the peloton making its way over the line, Orica-GreenEdge’s Sam Bewley and Michael Hepburn crossed the line, only to immediately turn around and quit the race as Caleb Ewan looked back in hesitation but continued on by himself but it wasn't his day either as he too pulled the pin.

As he begin the ascent up Yarra St, Kennaugh was reeled in with Maxime Bouet (Etixx-Quick Step) counter attacking to force a 100m gap. Behind, Bauer latched on at the base of the Challambra Crescent KOM as Darren Lapthorne (Drapac) then bridged across but it was Bouet taking the spoils.

The leading trio’s gap over the peloton was at 43 seconds with 50km left to race. Rob Power (Jayco U23) bridged across to make it four leaders with a 29 second advantage.

Calvin Watson and Pat Shaw made an attempt at bridging to the leaders. IAM Cycling’s Stef Clement then joined them.

Leading them over the finish line for second time was Bauer with the three chasers as 35 seconds. On the back half of the circuit, the three chasers caught the leaders at the base of Challambra Crescent with Bouet taking the KOM points once again.

Behind the seven riders, BMC took it upon themselves to set the pace while Power’s accelerations started to unsettle the rhythm up front inside the 30km.
Evans made a move with 26km to race as the seven leaders were absorbed by the peloton with his teammate Wyss popping off the front after Silvan Dillier had tried an attack to ensure the impetus to chase was on the shoulders of the rival teams.

Ian Stannard (Team Sky) and Pieter Serry (Etixx-Quick Step) caught Wyss while Richie Porte attacked the peloton on the false flat.

It was Stannard leading the trio over the line for the penultimate time while Simon Clarke was attempting to join them before the Yarra St climb. Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling) was the next rider on the road with Pat Shaw leading the peloton over the line.

With 17km to race, the gap to the peloton was 35 seconds but it was quickly all back together in the front with a bunch sprint finish looking all the more likely.

Inside the final 10km, it was Clarke off the front by himself but decided to wait for the 10 chasers and save his legs.

With 6km to go, Kennaugh launched a final attack but it was Moreno Moser (Cannondale-Garmin) who came over the top of him to force a 100m gap and six second lead over the eight riders.

Moreno was pulled back with two kilometres to go while the chasing group had the leaders in their sights.

In the final kilometre, Kennaugh was leading the front group in hope of setting up Rowe for the win but his earlier aggressive efforts taxed the British national champion and there would be no stopping Meersman from claiming career win number 15.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Gianni Meersman (Bel) Extixx - Quick Step4:15:22 
2Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica GreenEdge  
3Nathan Haas (Aus) Team Cannondale-Garmin  
4Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky  
5Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team  
6Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Team Katusha  
7Moreno Moser (Ita) Team Cannondale-Garmin  
8Danilo Wyss (Sui) BMC Racing Team  
9Pete Kennaugh (GBr) Team Sky0:00:07 
10Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling0:00:09 
11Silvan Dillier (Sui) BMC Racing Team  
12Aleski Tcatevich (Rus) Team Katusha  
13Fraser Gough (NZl) Avanti Racing Team  
14Tanner Putt (USA) UnitedHealthcare  
15Pieter Serry (Bel) Extixx - Quick Step  
16Davide de la Cruz Melgarejo (Esp) Extixx - Quick Step  
17Samuel Spokes (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling  
18Brendan Canty (Aus) Team Budget Forklifts  
19Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky  
20Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky  
21Hayden Roulston (NZl) Trek Factory Racing  
22Nathan Earle (Aus) Team Sky  
23Alex Clements (Aus) Jayco-AIS Under 23 Team  
24Yves Lampaert (Bel) Extixx - Quick Step  
25Cameron Bayly (Aus)  
26Peter Setina (USA) BMC Racing Team  
27Michael Schär (Sui) BMC Racing Team  
28Sergey Lagutin (Rus) Team Katusha  
29Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica GreenEdge  
30Martin Elmiger (Sui) IAM Cycling0:00:59 
31Jarlison Pantano Gomez (Col) IAM Cycling0:01:32 
32Pat Lane (Aus) African Wildlife Safaris Racing Team0:01:58 
33Maxime Bouet (Fra) Extixx - Quick Step  
34Stef Clement (Ned) IAM Cycling  
35Tiziano Dall'Ántonia (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
36Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
37Tyler Farrar (USA) MTN Qhubeka  
38Jesse Sergent (NZl) Trek Factory Racing  
39Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling  
40Davide Villella (Ita) Team Cannondale-Garmin  
41Daniel Summerhill (USA) UnitedHealthcare  
42Maxim Belkov (Rus) Team Katusha  
43Rudiger Selig (Ger) Team Katusha0:02:43 
44Calvin Watson (Aus) Trek Factory Racing  
45Alistair Donohoe (Aus)  
46Lucas Euser (USA) UnitedHealthcare  
47Christopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcare  
48Mitchell Cooper (Aus) Navitas Satalyst Racing Team  
49Alex Smyth (Aus) African Wildlife Safaris Racing Team0:05:42 
50Robert Power (Aus) Jayco-AIS Under 23 Team  
51Patrick Shaw (Aus) Avanti Racing Team0:07:23 
52Damien Howson (Aus) Orica GreenEdge0:09:04 
53Alexander Howes (USA) Team Cannondale-Garmin0:12:06 
54Hans Jacob Bauer (NZl) Team Cannondale-Garmin0:12:08 
DNFSamuel Sánchez (Esp) BMC Racing Team  
DNFCaleb Ewan (Aus) Orica GreenEdge  
DNFSam Bewley (NZl) Orica GreenEdge  
DNFMichael Hepburn (Aus) Orica GreenEdge  
DNFMark Renshaw (Aus) Extixx - Quick Step  
DNFVladimir Isaychev (Rus) Team Katusha  
DNFEugenio Alafaci (Ita) Trek Factory Racing  
DNFLaurent Didier (Lux) Trek Factory Racing  
DNFVicente Reynes (Esp) IAM Cycling  
DNFDavid Tanner (Aus) IAM Cycling  
DNFMatthew Goss (Aus) MTN Qhubeka  
DNFMatt Brammeier (Irl) MTN Qhubeka  
DNFNicolas Douggal (Rsa) MTN Qhubeka  
DNFSongezo Jim (RSA) MTN Qhubeka  
DNFSerge Pauwels (Bel) MTN Qhubeka  
DNFJohn Murphy (USA) UnitedHealthcare  
DNFAdrian Hegyvary (USA) UnitedHealthcare  
DNFMarco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
DNFAlberto Nardin (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
DNFMartin Kholer (Sui) Drapac Professional Cycling  
DNFRobbie Hucker (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling  
DNFCameron Peterson (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling  
DNFBernard Sulzberger (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling  
DNFSamuel Witmitz (Aus) Team Budget Forklifts  
DNFSamuel Horgan (NZl) Team Budget Forklifts  
DNFJacob Kauffmann (Aus) Team Budget Forklifts  
DNFTommy Nankervis (Aus) Team Budget Forklifts  
DNFMichael Torckler (NZl) Team Budget Forklifts  
DNFStuart Shaw (Aus)  
DNFOliver Kent-Spark (Aus)  
DNFAlder Martz (USA)  
DNFStuart Smith (Aus)  
DNFKane Walker (Aus) Navitas Satalyst Racing Team  
DNFMichael Fitzgerald (Aus) Navitas Satalyst Racing Team  
DNFJackson Mawby (Aus) Navitas Satalyst Racing Team  
DNFGrayson Napier (NZl) Navitas Satalyst Racing Team  
DNFJoel Strachan (Aus) Navitas Satalyst Racing Team  
DNFMichael Crosbie (Aus) African Wildlife Safaris Racing Team  
DNFMassimo Graziato (Ita) African Wildlife Safaris Racing Team  
DNFSean Lake (Aus) African Wildlife Safaris Racing Team  
DNFDarcy Woolley (Aus) African Wildlife Safaris Racing Team  
DNFJames Mowatt (Aus) Data #3 Symantec Racing Team  
DNFMichael Cupitt (Aus) Data #3 Symantec Racing Team  
DNFChris Jory (Aus) Data #3 Symantec Racing Team  
DNFKyle Bridgwood (Aus) Data #3 Symantec Racing Team  
DNFDavid Melville (Aus) Data #3 Symantec Racing Team  
DNFRyan Thomas (Aus) Data #3 Symantec Racing Team  
DNFTom Robinson (Aus) CharterMason Giant Racing Team  
DNFJayden Copp (Aus) CharterMason Giant Racing Team  
DNFBen Hill (Aus) CharterMason Giant Racing Team  
DNFNick Katsonis (Aus) CharterMason Giant Racing Team  
DNFDavid Edwards (Aus) CharterMason Giant Racing Team  
DNFJosh Taylor (Aus) CharterMason Giant Racing Team  
DNFAnthony Giacoppo (Aus) Avanti Racing Team  
DNFMitchell Lovelock-Fay (Aus) Avanti Racing Team  
DNFMark O'Brien (Aus) Avanti Racing Team  
DNFNeil van der Ploeg (Aus) Avanti Racing Team  
DNFJack Haig (Aus) Jayco-AIS Under 23 Team  
DNFJack Beckinsale (Aus) Jayco-AIS Under 23 Team  
DNFRyan Cavanagh (Aus) Jayco-AIS Under 23 Team  
DNFHarry Carpenter (Aus) Jayco-AIS Under 23 Team  

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