Sierra solos to win at women's Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race

Cuba's Arlenis Sierra (Astana) got the better of Mitchelton-Scott pair Lucy Kennedy and Amanda Spratt to win the women's edition of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in Geelong, Australia, with a powerful solo move on Australia Day on Saturday.

Sierra – a sprinter who is also capable of getting over the climbs, as her win on the final stage of the Tour of Guangxi at the end of last season demonstrated – was able to join a front group of five riders on the descent off the Challamabra Crescent climb inside the final 10 kilometres of the race, and then dropped Kennedy after the two riders had ridden clear with six kilometres left to race.

While a stricken Kennedy waited for her teammate Spratt to join her before giving it everything, the two Mitchelton riders weren't able to close the gap, coming across the line in second and third place, 19 seconds behind Sierra.

CCC-Liv's Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio – who had attacked on Challambra to take Spratt, Kennedy, Tibco-SVB's Brodie Chapman and Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) with her – was the best of the rest another 15 seconds back.

Slow burner

The intermediate sprint at Barwon Heads, with 90km of the 113km race to go, was won by defending champion Chloe Hosking (Ale Cipollini) in a head-to-head sprint with BePink's Rachele Barbieri, and proved to be the catalyst for a flurry of the race's first attacks, although none were ever allowed much headway.

A solo effort by Barbieri almost 10km further on, however, was the first move to put any daylight between it and the bunch, although it was always going to be a long way for a solo rider at that point.

The Italian built up a 45-second lead, but it quickly plummeted again when Hosking's Ale Cipollini teammates got the bit between their teeth approaching the second intermediate sprint at Torquay. Barbieri was swept up, and Hosking made it two sprints out of two.

Barbieri's BePink team were quickly back in action again: right after the second intermediate sprint, Silvia Valsecchi attacked, and again was left to go solo, but never allowed to get as much leeway as Barbieri with the first 'queen of the mountains' climb on the way out of Bells Beach.

Once Valsecchi was caught, Rally UHC's Krista Doebel-Hickok easily took the QOM, and was then content to slip back into the bunch as the race dipped under 60km to go.

For a third time, it was BePink on the attack – this time through Dutchwoman Nicole Steigenga, building up a 45-second gap with 45km to go, and for the first time provoking some activity from the bunch, with teams looking to get riders into a move.

Steigenga was nevertheless allowed to stretch her lead towards the two-minute mark, with few of the favourites yet to show themselves, other than defending champion Hosking at the intermediate sprints.

Going under 30km to go, Mitchelton-Scott came to the front for the first time, with Sarah Roy at the head of affairs, with team leader Spratt unexpectedly doing some of the work, perhaps frustrated at what had been a relatively easy race up to this point.

Trek-Segafredo clearly concurred, and also assisted at the front of the race, and for the first time riders began to get shelled out of the back of the race, as Steigenga's advantage began to plummet, and it was all over for her at just over 20km to go.

Defending champion's bad luck

Under pressure from Grace Brown and Sarah Kennedy, Mitchelton-Scott were able to put an increasing number of riders under pressure, and a badly timed mechanical problem for Hosking put her in the impossible position of trying to chase back on to a race that was by now truly on, stretched out into single file and continuing to lose riders out of the back on the approach to Geelong and the day's main climb of Challambra Crescent.

Onto the climb with 10km to go, CCC's Moolman-Pasio put in the first attack, powering clear with Longo Borghini on her wheel, followed by Spratt, with the three going clear, but with Kennedy and Chapman – the 2018 women's Herald Sun Tour winner – coming across to join them.

Chapman was in fact the first rider across the top of the climb, and it looked as though it was going to be decided between those five riders – Kennedy, Spratt, Moolman-Pasio, Chapman and Long Borghini – until Sierra joined them on the descent.

On the next, shorter, climb, Spratt attacked, with Moolman-Pasio the first to react. Kennedy was next to go, which put Chapman into trouble, with 6km to go, with Sierra able to come across on the next flat section.

Kennedy refused to work, perhaps knowing that Sierra would be stronger in a sprint, and hoping that Spratt could come back so that the two teammates could play the numbers game.

However, with the kilometres ticking down, Sierra simply rode Kennedy off her wheel with 4km to go, and the Australian was left in no-man's land, and forced to wait for Spratt.

Sierra goes solo

After Spratt attacked Moolman-Pasio, Longo Borghini and Chapman with 3km left to race, Kennedy and Spratt joined forces to chase down Sierra – but it was too little, too late, and the Cuban still held a 20-second lead going into the final kilometre, losing just one more second thanks to her delighted, two-armed salute on the line.

"Those last 20-25km were really hard," second-placed Kennedy said at the finish. "I could tell from the beginning that I had good legs, but Arlenis was super strong and I couldn't quite get there.

"There are pros and cons to being on the team that everyone looks to [Mitchelton-Scott], and we made the final hard, but couldn't quite pull off the win," said Kennedy.

"Arlenis had a great race," added Spratt. "I knew she was a great rider, so all credit to her. We had a fair amount of pressure – a lot of responsibility, whether we wanted it or not – and we just did our best to try to make the last 30km as hard as possible."

Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Arlenis Sierra (Cub) Astana Women's Team3:07:10
2Lucy Kennedy (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott Women0:00:19
3Amanda Spratt (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott WomenRow 2 - Cell 2
4Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) CCC-Liv0:00:34
5Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo WomenRow 4 - Cell 2
6Brodie Chapman (Aus) Tibco-Silicon Valley BankRow 5 - Cell 2
7Rachel Neylan (Aus) KordaMenthe Real Estate0:00:39
8Emily Roper (Aus) KordaMenthe Real Estate0:00:55
9Ruth Winder (USA) Trek-Segafredo WomenRow 8 - Cell 2
10Grace Brown (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott WomenRow 9 - Cell 2
11Riejanne Markus (Ned) CCC-LivRow 10 - Cell 2
12Jeanne Korevaar (Ned) CCC-LivRow 11 - Cell 2
13Alison Jackson (Can) Tibco-Silicon Valley BankRow 12 - Cell 2
14Elena Pirrone (Ita) Astana Women's TeamRow 13 - Cell 2
15Matilda Raynolds (Aus) Specialized Women's RacingRow 14 - Cell 2
16Rebecca Wiasak (Aus) KordaMenthe Real EstateRow 15 - Cell 2
17Sara Bergen (Can) Rally UHC Cycling WomenRow 16 - Cell 2
18Deborah Paine (NZl) New ZealandRow 17 - Cell 2
19Romy Kasper (Ger) Ale CipolliniRow 18 - Cell 2
20Krista Doebel-Hickok (USA) Rally UHC Cycling WomenRow 19 - Cell 2
21Jaime Gunning (Aus) Specialized Women's RacingRow 20 - Cell 2
22Jannie Milena Salcedo Zambrano (Col) Swapit AgolicoRow 21 - Cell 2
23Andrea Ramírez Fregoso (Mex) Swapit AgolicoRow 22 - Cell 2
24Francesca Pattaro (Ita) BePinkRow 23 - Cell 2
25Taryn Heather (Aus) Specialized Women's RacingRow 24 - Cell 2
26Tetyana Riabchenko (Ukr) Doltcini-Van Eyck SportRow 25 - Cell 2
27Eri Yonamine (Jpn) Ale CipolliniRow 26 - Cell 2
28Lizzie Stannard (Aus) Gusto StepFWD KOMRow 27 - Cell 2
29Sharlotte Lucas (NZl) Tibco-Silicon Valley BankRow 28 - Cell 2
30Lauren Stephens (USA) Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank0:01:04
31Jessica Pratt (Aus) Sydney Uni-Staminade0:01:19
32Chloe Hosking (Aus) Ale CipolliniRow 31 - Cell 2
33Allison Beveridge (Can) Rally UHC Cycling Women0:02:03
34Ruby Roseman-Gannon (Aus) KordaMenthe Real EstateRow 33 - Cell 2
35Lizbeth Yareli Salazar Vazquez (Mex) Astana Women's TeamRow 34 - Cell 2
36Emily Watts (Aus) Sydney Uni-StaminadeRow 35 - Cell 2
37Bryony van Velzen (Ned) Doltcini-Van Eyck SportRow 36 - Cell 2
38Valerie Demey (Bel) CCC-LivRow 37 - Cell 2
39Georgia Williams (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott WomenRow 38 - Cell 2
40Agnieszka Skalniak (Pol) CCC-LivRow 39 - Cell 2
41Katia Ragusa (Ita) BePinkRow 40 - Cell 2
42Elyse Fraser (NZl) New ZealandRow 41 - Cell 2
43Kirsty McCullum (NZl) New ZealandRow 42 - Cell 2
44Ella Bloor (Aus) Specialized Women's RacingRow 43 - Cell 2
45Daniela Reis (Por) Doltcini-Van Eyck Sport0:02:07
46Holly Ann Harris (Aus) Specialized Women's RacingRow 45 - Cell 2
47Vicki Whitelaw (Aus) Sydney Uni-StaminadeRow 46 - Cell 2
48Shannon Malseed (Aus) Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank0:03:15
49Maria Jose Vargas Barrientos (CRc) Swapit AgolicoRow 48 - Cell 2
50Tayler Wiles (USA) Trek-Segafredo Women0:03:23
51Carolina Rodriguez Gutierrez (Mex) Astana Women's TeamRow 50 - Cell 2
52Abigail Chloe Morton (NZl) New Zealand0:03:59
53Heidi Franz (USA) Rally UHC Cycling Women0:04:03
54Jesse Vandenbulcke (Bel) Doltcini-Van Eyck Sport0:04:12
55Alice Cobb (GBr) Tibco-Silicon Valley BankRow 54 - Cell 2
56Marie-Soleil Blais (Can) Astana Women's TeamRow 55 - Cell 2
57Evy Kuijpers (Ned) CCC-LivRow 56 - Cell 2
58Annamarie Lipp (NZl) New Zealand0:05:07
59Jeydy Pradera Bernal (Cub) Astana Women's TeamRow 58 - Cell 2
60Summer Moak (USA) Rally UHC Cycling WomenRow 59 - Cell 2
61Georgia Whitehouse (Aus) KordaMenthe Real EstateRow 60 - Cell 2
62Paola Andrea Munoz Grandon (Chi) Swapit Agolico0:05:45
63Ione Johnson (NZl) New ZealandRow 62 - Cell 2
64Brenda Andrea Santoyo Perez (Mex) Swapit AgolicoRow 63 - Cell 2
65Lauretta Hanson (Aus) Trek-Segafredo Women0:07:04
66Lotta Pauliina Lepistö (Fin) Trek-Segafredo WomenRow 65 - Cell 2
67Silvia Valsecchi (Ita) BePinkRow 66 - Cell 2
68Gillian Ellsay (Can) Rally UHC Cycling WomenRow 67 - Cell 2
69Nadia Quagliotto (Ita) Ale Cipollini0:07:18
70Anet Barrera Esparza (Mex) Swapit AgolicoRow 69 - Cell 2
71Nicole Steigenga (Ned) BePink0:07:59
72Jennifer Pettenon (Aus) Gusto StepFWD KOM0:08:27
73Sarah Gigante (Aus) KordaMenthe Real Estate0:09:11
74Jessica Allen (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott WomenRow 73 - Cell 2
75Sarah Roy (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott WomenRow 74 - Cell 2
76Anna Booth (Aus) Sydney Uni-StaminadeRow 75 - Cell 2
77Briony Mattocks (Aus) Specialized Women's RacingRow 76 - Cell 2
78Marjolein Van'T Geloof (Ned) Ale CipolliniRow 77 - Cell 2
79Tereza Medvedova (Svk) BePinkRow 78 - Cell 2
80Anisha Vekemans (Bel) Doltcini-Van Eyck SportRow 79 - Cell 2
81Victoire Berteau (Fra) Doltcini-Van Eyck Sport0:09:37
82Jessica Mundy (Aus) Gusto StepFWD KOMRow 81 - Cell 2
83Jessica Raimondi (Ita) Ale Cipollini0:13:00
DNFAmy Vesty (NZl) Sydney Uni-StaminadeRow 83 - Cell 2
DNFJennifer Darmody (Aus) Sydney Uni-StaminadeRow 84 - Cell 2
DNFRachele Barbieri (Ita) BePinkRow 85 - Cell 2
DNFAbi Van Twisk (GBr) Trek-Segafredo WomenRow 86 - Cell 2
DNFErin Kinnealy (Aus) Gusto StepFWD KOMRow 87 - Cell 2
DNFKendelle Hodges (Aus) Gusto StepFWD KOMRow 88 - Cell 2
DNFJemma Eastwood (Aus) Gusto StepFWD KOMRow 89 - Cell 2

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