Viviani was able to stay with the lead group despite the four tough climbs of Challambra Crescent on the finishing circuits. Despite a last-gasp effort by Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) to escape the sprinters' clutches just before the final kilometre, the Italian champion was able to emerge from the slipstream of lead-out man Michael Mørkøv in the final couple of hundred metres to hold off a fast-finishing Ewan, with Impey almost caught for third by Dimension Data's Ryan Gibbons in the reduced-bunch sprint.
"The tactic was to drop me, but we played smart and were always able to come back," Viviani told Channel 7 after the finish. "I have to say thanks to the best team in the world, with Michael doing a fantastic lead-out for me. With his help, I'm always confident of taking the win. Michael's been away from home for a month now, but this is the pay-off."
How it unfolded
The peloton started in Geelong under a perfect blue sky, with an equally perfect 23C to go with it.
Immediately after the neutral zone, as the start flag was dropped by race director Scott Sunderland, Nathan Elliott, riding for the KordaMentha Real Estate Australian national team, broke clear, and was soon joined by his teammate Carter Turnbull and Astana's Laurens De Vreese.
The trio was allowed to have its day, quickly building up a lead of over four minutes. After appearing to make a deal whereby Elliott would be allowed to take maximum points at the intermediate sprints while De Vreese would take the 'king of the mountain' points, the break settled into a good rhythm, working well together, while the bunch, led by Mitchelton-Scott, kept them pegged at around three-to-four minutes.
Only as the race approached the three-and-a-half finishing circuits back in Geelong, which made for four ascents of the tough Challambra Crescent climb, with 60km to go, did the bunch begin to react in earnest, with Lotto Soudal and Bora-Hansgrohe joining Mitchelton on the front, with those three teams riding for Caleb Ewan, defending champion Jay McCarthy and Daryl Impey, respectively.
When the break hit the Challambra climb for the first time, Turnbull immediately hit the wall, having worked hard all day, and it was left to his teammate Elliott and De Vreese to take on the climb alone, where the Belgian took maximum KOM points.
The leading pair still had over two-and-a-half minutes over the bunch at this point, and had pushed their lead out a little more to 2:40 as they went through the finish line with three laps of the circuit to go.
After De Vreese was first over the top of Challambra the next time over the climb, he opened up a bit of a gap over Elliott on the descent, with the Australian beginning to suffer a little for his efforts.
De Vreese's Astana teammate, Davide Ballerini, and Dimension Data's Nic Dlamini also rode clear from the bunch on the same descent, and, only a couple of kilometres later, De Vreese simply rode Elliott off his wheel, and he was caught by Dlamini and Ballerini just before the third climb up Challambra.
On the climb, Ballerini was able to drop Elliott and Dlamini, and caught up with De Vreese going over the top, putting two Astana riders at the head of affairs, with a 1:34 gap over the bunch going into the final 25km, but it wasn't long before Ballerini had to leave his exhausted teammate behind, and Ballerini went into the final 16.6km lap with a minute's lead over the peloton.
Despite the bunch catching Elliott, Dlamini and De Vreese on that final lap, and then Ballerini halfway up the final climb of Challambra, the expected fireworks failed to materialise as the sprinters' teams dragged their men over the top and into the final eight kilometres.
Deceuninck-QuickStep take control
Despite efforts from Team Sky's Dylan van Baarle – who was policed by Mitchelton's Lucas Hamilton and Deceuninck's Dries Devenyns – and then from Astana's Luis Leon Sanchez, with Richie Porte then trying to rid himself of the sprinters with just over a kilometre to go, having been unable to make a difference on the climb, it was Viviani's Deceuninck-QuickStep team that took control.
Danish champion Michael Mørkøv expertly led out Viviani, who jumped from his wheel in the final couple of hundred metres, with Ewan his only real competition.
Impey tried to follow, but could only manage third, with his compatriot Gibbons almost catching him on the line.
Viviani could celebrate another win – his second already so far in 2019, having also won the opening stage of the Tour Down Under – while the climbers rued an opportunity lost, with no one able to make the climbs significantly tough enough to deter the sprinters.
Ewan also praised his Lotto Soudal teammates, despite having narrowly missed out on the win.
"I tried to hide as much as possible today, and my teammates did a great job of keeping me out of the wind," the Australian said. "It was hard when it went full gas those last two times over the climb, but I started the climbs in a good position thanks to my team."
Impey said his Mitchelton-Scott teammates tried to make the race as difficult as possible for the pure sprinters, but the South African had to settle for third place for the second year in a row.
"There was a bit of a headwind on the climb, and we tried to drop Caleb and Viviani, but to finish third in that group of sprinters... I have to be happy with that," he said.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep||3:54:35|
|2||Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal|
|3||Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott|
|4||Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data|
|5||Jens Debusschere (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin|
|6||Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky|
|7||Michael Mørkøv (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|8||Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|9||Owain Doull (GBr) Team Sky|
|10||Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team|
|11||Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|12||Robert Gesink (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma|
|13||Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates|
|14||Kenny Elissonde (Fra) Team Sky|
|15||Ruben Guerreiro (Por) Katusha-Alpecin|
|16||Chris Hamilton (Aus) Team Sunweb|
|17||Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky|
|18||Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates|
|19||Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education First Pro Cycling|
|20||Nico Denz (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale|
|21||Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates|
|22||Dylan Sunderland (Aus) KordaMentha Real Estate Australian Team|
|23||Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Dimension Data|
|24||Joey Rosskopf (USA) CCC Team|
|25||George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma|
|26||Clément Chevrier (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|27||Pierre Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|28||Jai Hindley (Aus) Team Sunweb|
|29||Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo|
|30||Vyacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin|
|31||Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First Pro Cycling|
|32||Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Dimension Data|
|33||Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott|
|34||Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:00:11|
|35||Thomas Scully (NZl) EF Education First Pro Cycling||0:00:13|
|36||Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Team Sky||0:00:15|
|37||Dion Smith (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott||0:00:25|
|38||Alexander Edmondson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott|
|39||Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha-Alpecin||0:00:27|
|40||Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:00:38|
|41||Dries Devenyns (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:00:45|
|42||Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team Sky||0:00:55|
|43||Davide Ballerini (Ita) Astana Pro Team||0:01:04|
|44||Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates|
|45||Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates|
|46||Cees Bol (Ned) Team Sunweb|
|47||Lukasz Owsian (Pol) CCC Team||0:01:13|
|48||Szymon Sajnok (Pol) CCC Team|
|49||Francisco Jose Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) CCC Team|
|50||Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky|
|51||Kiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo|
|52||Daniil Fominykh (Kaz) Astana Pro Team|
|53||Carl Fredrik Hagen (Nor) Lotto Soudal|
|54||Lachlan Morton (Aus) EF Education First Pro Cycling|
|55||Michael Storer (Aus) Team Sunweb|
|56||Ayden Toovey (Aus) KordaMentha Real Estate Australian Team|
|57||Manuele Boaro (Ita) Astana Pro Team|
|58||Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto Soudal||0:01:29|
|59||Michael Freiberg (Aus) KordaMentha Real Estate Australian Team|
|60||Tom Leezer (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma|
|61||Jarlinson Pantano Gomez (Col) Trek-Segafredo|
|62||William Clarke (Aus) Trek-Segafredo|
|63||James Knox (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|64||Remy Mertz (Bel) Lotto Soudal||0:01:57|
|65||Victor De La Parte (Spa) CCC Team||0:02:13|
|66||Nicholas White (Aus) KordaMentha Real Estate Australian Team||0:02:46|
|67||Nans Peters (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|68||Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Soudal|
|69||Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|70||Mitchell Docker (Aus) EF Education First Pro Cycling||0:03:22|
|71||Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-Segafredo||0:03:43|
|72||James Whelan (Aus) EF Education First Pro Cycling|
|73||Harrison Sweeney (Aus) KordaMentha Real Estate Australian Team||0:04:19|
|74||Robert Stannard (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott|
|75||Luke Durbridge (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott|
|76||Jonas Gregaard Wilsly (Den) Astana Pro Team|
|77||Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma|
|78||Rory Sutherland (Aus) UAE Team Emirates||0:05:40|
|79||Alex Dowsett (GBr) Katusha-Alpecin|
|80||Mikkel Frølich Honoré (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|81||Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Dimension Data|
|82||Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|83||Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo|
|84||Yevgeniy Gidich (Kaz) Astana Pro Team|
|85||Adam Blythe (GBr) Lotto Soudal|
|86||Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|87||Max Walscheid (Ger) Team Sunweb||0:06:27|
|88||Ben O'Connor (Aus) Dimension Data||0:07:07|
|89||Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team||0:08:25|
|90||Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La Mondiale|
|91||Jakub Mareczko (Ita) CCC Team|
|92||Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Sunweb|
|93||Ryan Mullen (Irl) Trek-Segafredo|
|94||Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|95||Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|96||Oscar Gatto (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|97||Dmitrii Strakhov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin|
|98||Nathan Elliott (Aus) KordaMentha Real Estate Australian Team|
|99||Danny van Poppel (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma|
|DNF||Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Michael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Sam Bewley (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott|
|DNF||Max Kanter (Ger) Team Sunweb|
|DNF||Lennard Hofstede (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma|
|DNF||Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma|
|DNF||Ivo Oliveira (Por) UAE Team Emirates|
|DNF||Daniel McLay (GBr) EF Education First Pro Cycling|
|DNF||Nicholas Dlamini (RSA) Dimension Data|
|DNF||Scott Davies (GBr) Dimension Data|
|DNF||Carter Turnbull (Aus) KordaMentha Real Estate Australian Team|
Latest on Cyclingnews
Iserbyt dominates Iowa City World CupBelgian tops Toon Aerts in series opener
Watch the Iowa City UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup - live streamingMen's race starts at 22:00CET, Women's at 23:45
López loses Vuelta a España white jersey in final summit finishColombian suffering from effects of stage 19 crash on last mountain stage
Brennauer wins Madrid Challenge time trialGerman tops Brand, Mathiensen in opening stage