Viviani beats Ewan to win Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race

Deceuninck-QuickStep's Elia Viviani sprinted to the win at the men's Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on Sunday, beating Lotto Soudal's Caleb Ewan and Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott).

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.

Full results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep3:54:35
2Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal
3Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott
4Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data
5Jens Debusschere (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
6Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky
7Michael Mørkøv (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep
8Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe
9Owain Doull (GBr) Team Sky
10Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team
11Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
12Robert Gesink (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
13Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
14Kenny Elissonde (Fra) Team Sky
15Ruben Guerreiro (Por) Katusha-Alpecin
16Chris Hamilton (Aus) Team Sunweb
17Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky
18Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
19Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education First Pro Cycling
20Nico Denz (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale
21Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
22Dylan Sunderland (Aus) KordaMentha Real Estate Australian Team
23Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Dimension Data
24Joey Rosskopf (USA) CCC Team
25George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma
26Clément Chevrier (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
27Pierre Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
28Jai Hindley (Aus) Team Sunweb
29Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo
30Vyacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin
31Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First Pro Cycling
32Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Dimension Data
33Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
34Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep0:00:11
35Thomas Scully (NZl) EF Education First Pro Cycling0:00:13
36Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Team Sky0:00:15
37Dion Smith (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott0:00:25
38Alexander Edmondson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
39Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha-Alpecin0:00:27
40Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe0:00:38
41Dries Devenyns (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep0:00:45
42Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team Sky0:00:55
43Davide Ballerini (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:01:04
44Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
45Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates
46Cees Bol (Ned) Team Sunweb
47Lukasz Owsian (Pol) CCC Team0:01:13
48Szymon Sajnok (Pol) CCC Team
49Francisco Jose Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) CCC Team
50Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky
51Kiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo
52Daniil Fominykh (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
53Carl Fredrik Hagen (Nor) Lotto Soudal
54Lachlan Morton (Aus) EF Education First Pro Cycling
55Michael Storer (Aus) Team Sunweb
56Ayden Toovey (Aus) KordaMentha Real Estate Australian Team
57Manuele Boaro (Ita) Astana Pro Team
58Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto Soudal0:01:29
59Michael Freiberg (Aus) KordaMentha Real Estate Australian Team
60Tom Leezer (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
61Jarlinson Pantano Gomez (Col) Trek-Segafredo
62William Clarke (Aus) Trek-Segafredo
63James Knox (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep
64Remy Mertz (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:01:57
65Victor De La Parte (Spa) CCC Team0:02:13
66Nicholas White (Aus) KordaMentha Real Estate Australian Team0:02:46
67Nans Peters (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
68Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Soudal
69Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
70Mitchell Docker (Aus) EF Education First Pro Cycling0:03:22
71Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-Segafredo0:03:43
72James Whelan (Aus) EF Education First Pro Cycling
73Harrison Sweeney (Aus) KordaMentha Real Estate Australian Team0:04:19
74Robert Stannard (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
75Luke Durbridge (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
76Jonas Gregaard Wilsly (Den) Astana Pro Team
77Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma
78Rory Sutherland (Aus) UAE Team Emirates0:05:40
79Alex Dowsett (GBr) Katusha-Alpecin
80Mikkel Frølich Honoré (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep
81Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Dimension Data
82Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal
83Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
84Yevgeniy Gidich (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
85Adam Blythe (GBr) Lotto Soudal
86Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep
87Max Walscheid (Ger) Team Sunweb0:06:27
88Ben O'Connor (Aus) Dimension Data0:07:07
89Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team0:08:25
90Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La Mondiale
91Jakub Mareczko (Ita) CCC Team
92Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Sunweb
93Ryan Mullen (Irl) Trek-Segafredo
94Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
95Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
96Oscar Gatto (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
97Dmitrii Strakhov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin
98Nathan Elliott (Aus) KordaMentha Real Estate Australian Team
99Danny van Poppel (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
DNFGregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFMichael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFSam Bewley (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott
DNFMax Kanter (Ger) Team Sunweb
DNFLennard Hofstede (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
DNFBert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
DNFIvo Oliveira (Por) UAE Team Emirates
DNFDaniel McLay (GBr) EF Education First Pro Cycling
DNFNicholas Dlamini (RSA) Dimension Data
DNFScott Davies (GBr) Dimension Data
DNFCarter Turnbull (Aus) KordaMentha Real Estate Australian Team


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