It's a familiar story ahead of the third edition of the women's Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race with the question of how to stop Orica-Scott? The Australian team has been a dominant force across the 2017 'summer of cycling' and head into the race with the inform trio of Gracie Elvin, Amanda Spratt, and recently crowned national champion Kat Garfoot.
The team bossed the race last year when crosswinds decimated the race early on before Spratt took the race by the scuff of the neck and enjoyed a solo win. Inaugural winner Rachel Neylan made it a one-two for Orica-Scott while Dani King rounded out the podium but misses the race in 2017.
Just like the men's race, there is no change to the 113km parcours from the first two previous editions. Whereas the men will completed three laps of a finishing circuit, the women's peloton simply ride into Geelong after a jaunt out and along the Great Ocean Road, and are confronted with the hilly streets before the fast finish into the waterfront.
For the women's start list, click here
Riders to watch
The Orica-Scott trio of Elvin, Garfoot and Spratt firm as three favourites for the victory and with Annemiek Van Vleuten also selected in the squad, it is a question of how to stop them, and who will be chosen to take their opportunities for the victory. Having missed out on the criterium victory, the team will be hungry to get back on the winners list and add to its wins at the Bay Crits, nationals, and Santos Women's Tour.
The Cylance team with Kirsten Wild was equally dominate in the sprints at the Santos Women's Tour and on the Albert Park F1 track but the harder parcours and knowledge of a rider in form is likely to count against the Dutchwoman. Chloe Hosking of Ale Cipollini is another sprinter in form and just the kind of rider the peloton will be working hard to drop and ensure she doesn't feature at the pointy end of the race.
Hosking's teammate Carlee Taylor was aggressive at the Santos Women's Tour and her climbing characteristics are suited to the road race course. A late attack à la Neylan in 2015, and Spratt in 2016 could be on the cards for Taylor who is better suited to solo arrival at the line.
Australian's Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM) and Peta Mullens (Hagens Berman / Supermint) are two dangerous riders should the race be decided in a small bunch finish and could also shake up the race on the run in to Geelong. Emma Pooley is guest riding for the Holden Women's Cycling Team this month and with the Santos Women's Tour in her legs, is a dark horse for the victory.
Cyclingnews will have a race report, results and photo gallery from the race. With the race being broadcast live, check your local TV guides for full details