Meersman wins Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race

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

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Gianni Meersman (Bel) Extixx - Quick Step4:15:22
2Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica GreenEdgeRow 1 - Cell 2
3Nathan Haas (Aus) Team Cannondale-GarminRow 2 - Cell 2
4Luke Rowe (GBr) Team SkyRow 3 - Cell 2
5Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing TeamRow 4 - Cell 2
6Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Team KatushaRow 5 - Cell 2
7Moreno Moser (Ita) Team Cannondale-GarminRow 6 - Cell 2
8Danilo Wyss (Sui) BMC Racing TeamRow 7 - Cell 2
9Pete Kennaugh (GBr) Team Sky0:00:07
10Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling0:00:09
11Silvan Dillier (Sui) BMC Racing TeamRow 10 - Cell 2
12Aleski Tcatevich (Rus) Team KatushaRow 11 - Cell 2
13Fraser Gough (NZl) Avanti Racing TeamRow 12 - Cell 2
14Tanner Putt (USA) UnitedHealthcareRow 13 - Cell 2
15Pieter Serry (Bel) Extixx - Quick StepRow 14 - Cell 2
16Davide de la Cruz Melgarejo (Esp) Extixx - Quick StepRow 15 - Cell 2
17Samuel Spokes (Aus) Drapac Professional CyclingRow 16 - Cell 2
18Brendan Canty (Aus) Team Budget ForkliftsRow 17 - Cell 2
19Ian Stannard (GBr) Team SkyRow 18 - Cell 2
20Richie Porte (Aus) Team SkyRow 19 - Cell 2
21Hayden Roulston (NZl) Trek Factory RacingRow 20 - Cell 2
22Nathan Earle (Aus) Team SkyRow 21 - Cell 2
23Alex Clements (Aus) Jayco-AIS Under 23 TeamRow 22 - Cell 2
24Yves Lampaert (Bel) Extixx - Quick StepRow 23 - Cell 2
25Cameron Bayly (Aus) search2retain-health.com.auRow 24 - Cell 2
26Peter Setina (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 25 - Cell 2
27Michael Schär (Sui) BMC Racing TeamRow 26 - Cell 2
28Sergey Lagutin (Rus) Team KatushaRow 27 - Cell 2
29Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica GreenEdgeRow 28 - Cell 2
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 StepRow 32 - Cell 2
34Stef Clement (Ned) IAM CyclingRow 33 - Cell 2
35Tiziano Dall'Ántonia (Ita) Androni GiocattoliRow 34 - Cell 2
36Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Androni GiocattoliRow 35 - Cell 2
37Tyler Farrar (USA) MTN QhubekaRow 36 - Cell 2
38Jesse Sergent (NZl) Trek Factory RacingRow 37 - Cell 2
39Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Drapac Professional CyclingRow 38 - Cell 2
40Davide Villella (Ita) Team Cannondale-GarminRow 39 - Cell 2
41Daniel Summerhill (USA) UnitedHealthcareRow 40 - Cell 2
42Maxim Belkov (Rus) Team KatushaRow 41 - Cell 2
43Rudiger Selig (Ger) Team Katusha0:02:43
44Calvin Watson (Aus) Trek Factory RacingRow 43 - Cell 2
45Alistair Donohoe (Aus) search2retain-health.com.auRow 44 - Cell 2
46Lucas Euser (USA) UnitedHealthcareRow 45 - Cell 2
47Christopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcareRow 46 - Cell 2
48Mitchell Cooper (Aus) Navitas Satalyst Racing TeamRow 47 - Cell 2
49Alex Smyth (Aus) African Wildlife Safaris Racing Team0:05:42
50Robert Power (Aus) Jayco-AIS Under 23 TeamRow 49 - Cell 2
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 TeamRow 54 - Cell 2
DNFCaleb Ewan (Aus) Orica GreenEdgeRow 55 - Cell 2
DNFSam Bewley (NZl) Orica GreenEdgeRow 56 - Cell 2
DNFMichael Hepburn (Aus) Orica GreenEdgeRow 57 - Cell 2
DNFMark Renshaw (Aus) Extixx - Quick StepRow 58 - Cell 2
DNFVladimir Isaychev (Rus) Team KatushaRow 59 - Cell 2
DNFEugenio Alafaci (Ita) Trek Factory RacingRow 60 - Cell 2
DNFLaurent Didier (Lux) Trek Factory RacingRow 61 - Cell 2
DNFVicente Reynes (Esp) IAM CyclingRow 62 - Cell 2
DNFDavid Tanner (Aus) IAM CyclingRow 63 - Cell 2
DNFMatthew Goss (Aus) MTN QhubekaRow 64 - Cell 2
DNFMatt Brammeier (Irl) MTN QhubekaRow 65 - Cell 2
DNFNicolas Douggal (Rsa) MTN QhubekaRow 66 - Cell 2
DNFSongezo Jim (RSA) MTN QhubekaRow 67 - Cell 2
DNFSerge Pauwels (Bel) MTN QhubekaRow 68 - Cell 2
DNFJohn Murphy (USA) UnitedHealthcareRow 69 - Cell 2
DNFAdrian Hegyvary (USA) UnitedHealthcareRow 70 - Cell 2
DNFMarco Frapporti (Ita) Androni GiocattoliRow 71 - Cell 2
DNFAlberto Nardin (Ita) Androni GiocattoliRow 72 - Cell 2
DNFMartin Kholer (Sui) Drapac Professional CyclingRow 73 - Cell 2
DNFRobbie Hucker (Aus) Drapac Professional CyclingRow 74 - Cell 2
DNFCameron Peterson (Aus) Drapac Professional CyclingRow 75 - Cell 2
DNFBernard Sulzberger (Aus) Drapac Professional CyclingRow 76 - Cell 2
DNFSamuel Witmitz (Aus) Team Budget ForkliftsRow 77 - Cell 2
DNFSamuel Horgan (NZl) Team Budget ForkliftsRow 78 - Cell 2
DNFJacob Kauffmann (Aus) Team Budget ForkliftsRow 79 - Cell 2
DNFTommy Nankervis (Aus) Team Budget ForkliftsRow 80 - Cell 2
DNFMichael Torckler (NZl) Team Budget ForkliftsRow 81 - Cell 2
DNFStuart Shaw (Aus) search2retain-health.com.auRow 82 - Cell 2
DNFOliver Kent-Spark (Aus) search2retain-health.com.auRow 83 - Cell 2
DNFAlder Martz (USA) search2retain-health.com.auRow 84 - Cell 2
DNFStuart Smith (Aus) search2retain-health.com.auRow 85 - Cell 2
DNFKane Walker (Aus) Navitas Satalyst Racing TeamRow 86 - Cell 2
DNFMichael Fitzgerald (Aus) Navitas Satalyst Racing TeamRow 87 - Cell 2
DNFJackson Mawby (Aus) Navitas Satalyst Racing TeamRow 88 - Cell 2
DNFGrayson Napier (NZl) Navitas Satalyst Racing TeamRow 89 - Cell 2
DNFJoel Strachan (Aus) Navitas Satalyst Racing TeamRow 90 - Cell 2
DNFMichael Crosbie (Aus) African Wildlife Safaris Racing TeamRow 91 - Cell 2
DNFMassimo Graziato (Ita) African Wildlife Safaris Racing TeamRow 92 - Cell 2
DNFSean Lake (Aus) African Wildlife Safaris Racing TeamRow 93 - Cell 2
DNFDarcy Woolley (Aus) African Wildlife Safaris Racing TeamRow 94 - Cell 2
DNFJames Mowatt (Aus) Data #3 Symantec Racing TeamRow 95 - Cell 2
DNFMichael Cupitt (Aus) Data #3 Symantec Racing TeamRow 96 - Cell 2
DNFChris Jory (Aus) Data #3 Symantec Racing TeamRow 97 - Cell 2
DNFKyle Bridgwood (Aus) Data #3 Symantec Racing TeamRow 98 - Cell 2
DNFDavid Melville (Aus) Data #3 Symantec Racing TeamRow 99 - Cell 2
DNFRyan Thomas (Aus) Data #3 Symantec Racing TeamRow 100 - Cell 2
DNFTom Robinson (Aus) CharterMason Giant Racing TeamRow 101 - Cell 2
DNFJayden Copp (Aus) CharterMason Giant Racing TeamRow 102 - Cell 2
DNFBen Hill (Aus) CharterMason Giant Racing TeamRow 103 - Cell 2
DNFNick Katsonis (Aus) CharterMason Giant Racing TeamRow 104 - Cell 2
DNFDavid Edwards (Aus) CharterMason Giant Racing TeamRow 105 - Cell 2
DNFJosh Taylor (Aus) CharterMason Giant Racing TeamRow 106 - Cell 2
DNFAnthony Giacoppo (Aus) Avanti Racing TeamRow 107 - Cell 2
DNFMitchell Lovelock-Fay (Aus) Avanti Racing TeamRow 108 - Cell 2
DNFMark O'Brien (Aus) Avanti Racing TeamRow 109 - Cell 2
DNFNeil van der Ploeg (Aus) Avanti Racing TeamRow 110 - Cell 2
DNFJack Haig (Aus) Jayco-AIS Under 23 TeamRow 111 - Cell 2
DNFJack Beckinsale (Aus) Jayco-AIS Under 23 TeamRow 112 - Cell 2
DNFRyan Cavanagh (Aus) Jayco-AIS Under 23 TeamRow 113 - Cell 2
DNFHarry Carpenter (Aus) Jayco-AIS Under 23 TeamRow 114 - Cell 2