The second edition of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race will feature nine WorldTour teams in 2016 with Australian riders Rohan Dennis (BMC) and Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) the first two riders confirmed for the Geelong one-day race. Neither rider took place in this year's race with Dennis preparing for his successful UCI Hour Record attempt and Gerrans recovering from a broken collarbone. The 174km 1.HC race takes place in Geelong, host of the 2010 Worlds, on January 31.
"To have nine of the best cycling teams in the world travelling to Victoria is fantastic and I am sure like last time they will enjoy the challenges and unique style of racing that our course and conditions provide. I can’t wait to see it unfold," Cadel Evans said of the announcement.
Dennis, the 2015 winner of the 'Oppy' award, is yet to announce his 2016 goals after a success filled season in which he won the Tour Down Under, won the opening stage of the Tour de France to wear the first yellow jersey of the race, claimed overall victory at the USA Pro Challenge and helped BMC defend its team time trial World Championship title. It is likely that Dennis will ride the Australian national championships with the 25-year-old focusing on the time trial title although it is yet to be confirmed whether he will ride the Tour Down Under.
"After seeing the inaugural race earlier this year, I can't wait to be part of it in January 2016," Dennis said. "I'm looking forward to starting the season off in Australia, and where better than along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria being cheered on by a passionate Aussie crowd."
After an injury plagued season in 2015, Gerrans is looking to "start the season all guns blazing" as Orica-GreenEdge sport director Matt White told Cyclingnews, with the 35-year-old to target a third national road title and fourth Tour Down Under victory. A proven one-day racer, Gerrans has won two of the five monuments, Milan-San Remo and Liège–Bastogne–Liège, along with GP's Ouest-France, Montreal and Quebec and his characteristics suits the parcours.
"Having been sidelined for the Australian season at the beginning of this year I'm really looking forward to being back amongst it and racing in front of home crowds again next year," Gerrans said.
WorldTour team Etixx-QuickStep, the team of inaugural victor Gianni Meersman, will be not returning to the race along with Cannondale-Garmin, although LottoNL-Jumbo and Lotto Soudal will make their debut's.
Team Sky, Katusha, Trek Factory Racing, IAM Cycling and MTN-Qhubeka, having ridden with a Pro-Continental license in 2015, are the other WorldTour teams that will take part in the race.
Australian team Drapac return to race in 2016, as does UnitedHealthcare, while CCC-Sprandi-Polkowice, Novo Nordisk and ONE Pro Cycling team make their first appearances and complete the Pro-Continental roster of teams. An Australian national team will also line up in Geelong for the race with the final list of teams to be finalised in January "pending Continental team licenses."
Former Milan-San Remo winner Matt Goss is likely to skip the Australian national championships in early-January but could make his debut with ONE Pro Cycling at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race who also have Australian's Steele von Hoff and Glen O'Shea on its 2016 team roster.
Teams are yet to be announced for the women's 113km 2.2 race on Saturday 30 January.
Confirmed teams for the 2016 Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race;
BMC Racing Team
Drapac Pro Cycling
ONE Pro Cycling
Team Novo Nordisk
Australian National Team