After a short lull following his stage 1 victory at the Tour Down Under, Elia Viviani got back to winning ways at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. The win was his 20th with Patrick Lefevere’s Deceuninck-QuickStep team and the 70th of his career.
Viviani finished runner-up to Jay McCarthy in last year’s race and he was determined to rectify that, beating Caleb Ewan and Daryl Impey by a clear margin to take his second victory of the season so far.
“There were two second places [from] last year that I wanted to improve in 2019, and this was one of them,” Viviani explained. “I like this race a lot, I like the course because it gives a chance to every type of riders, so I was really keen on winning here. We were in four riders going into the final kilometres, which was very important.
“Also, having Michael by my side under the red kite gave me a lot of confidence, as he was crucial today. As I said, I wanted to rectify last year’s runner-up place and having achieved that gives me a lot of joy.”
In the previous four editions of the race, it has ended in a bunch sprint on three occasions. However, there were several teams interested in shaking off the fast men. The teams used the main challenge of the day, the Challambra climb, to put the sprinters under pressure. Despite their best efforts, including a last-ditch attack from Richie Porte, Viviani held firm before Michael Morkov delivered him to the line. With a couple of hundred metres, Viviani jumped out of his slipstream with Ewan the only one that could come close to matching him.
“We were really committed today, had a plan and followed it accordingly,” explained Viviani. “I knew that some were interested in dropping me and pushed a hard tempo on the climbs, but we played it smart and each time came back thanks to the best team in the world, who worked tirelessly and gave me a perfect lead-out.”
The Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race was Viviani's last race in Australia this season. His next race will be the UAE Tour at the end of February.