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The busy start to the Australian cycling summer is set to get even busier with the announcement this morning of the inaugural Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, a one-day event that will be held on Sunday February 1 , the weekend after the Santos Tour Down Under.
UPDATE: Preliminary course information and details about the women’s race have been added to the original story.
Cadel Evans (BMC) flew over from his home in Switzerland to join Victorian premier Dennis Napthine in Geelong this morning to announce the race named in his honour. The race will start and finish in Geelong, and pass through Barwon Heads, the town on the Bellarine Peninsula that Cadel Evans calls home when back in Australia for the off-season.
According to the event’s website the race will also pass by Thirteenth Beach, Torquay, Bells Beach and the rolling hills around Moriac before finishing on the Geelong Waterfront.
CyclingTips has been told that the exact course is yet to be confirmed but that “the length will be approximately 200 – 300km”. A top-line course map can be seen below and seems to suggest laps of the same 15.8km circuit used in the 2010 Road Race World Championships, including the tough climb up Challambra Crescent.
“I love this part of the world, it’s beautiful country that’s ideal for a one-day cycling race, and it also just happens to be my home”, Cadel Evans said via the event’s website. “The 2010 UCI Road World Championships in Geelong highlighted just how thrilling the one-day road race format can be, and I am tremendously excited to see the Race come to life and to be bringing top international cycling to Barwon Heads, Geelong and Torquay.”
The race has provisionally been given a UCI 1.1 ranking, making it a third-tier one-day event on the elite men’s calendar. Like the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, which has a UCI 2.1 ranking, the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race will be able to feature a maximum of 50% ProTeams with the remaining teams made up of a combination of UCI Professional Continental teams, Continental teams and representative national teams. ProTeams Orica-GreenEdge and BMC have already confirmed their involvement for next year’s race.
CyclingTips believes the event organisers were pushing for the race to be given WorldTour classification, like the Santos Tour Down Under, or a 1.HC ranking at the very least.
By holding the race the week after the Santos Tour Down Under, the organisers hope that the world’s biggest teams will be tempted to stay in Australia and take part in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. When combined with the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, which is likely to take place the week after the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, there are now three international events for riders around the world to attend when searching for some early season form.
The Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race will be proceeded on the Saturday by an elite women’s race and a “People’s Ride”. Back in April Cycling Australia president Gerry Ryan was quoted in the Adelaide Advertiser saying that it was important for the event to include a women’s race and it would seem those plans came to fruition.
“I’d like to see a women’s event as well and I’ve spoken to the Tour Down Under and Victoria to say, ‘don’t forget the women’”, Ryan said at the time.
The elite women’s race has not received a UCI classification and will instead form part of the National Road Series. The organisers will look to have the race upgraded to a UCI ranking for 2016 and beyond.
The introduction of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race means a slight expansion to the UCI Oceania Tour, the series of elite men’s races conducted in the Oceania region. In 2014 there are only four races in the Oceania Tour — the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, the New Zealand Cycle Classic and the road race and time trial at the Oceania championships. A lack of local, international racing has been an ongoing concern for professional teams in the region, with some suggesting the Oceania Tour should be merged with the Asia Tour (which features 28 races) to increase the opportunities for local professionals.
The race has been in the works for several years with Victorian Major Events looking to find a way to piggy-back off the success of the Tour Down Under. CyclingTips believes the race was close to being held earlier this year, but missed deadlines forced it to be pushed back until 2015.
“We are excited about bringing some of the world’s best cyclists to Victoria for the inaugural Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race next year,” Dr Napthine said via the race’s website.
“This major international cycling event will showcase to the world some of Victoria’s best regional locations, including Geelong, the Bellarine Peninsula and the iconic Great Ocean Road,” he added.
The region is no stranger to world-class cycling events having hosted the finish of the 2010 UCI Road Cycling World Championships in Geelong.