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by Matt de Neef
December 14, 2016
Photography by Matt de Neef
The Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race carnival will grow beyond a single weekend in 2017 with the introduction of a men’s and women’s criterium event, the Towards Zero Race Melbourne.
Held on Australia Day, Thursday January 26, Race Melbourne falls two days before the women’s Cadel’s Race and three days before the men’s event. The criteriums will be held on the Albert Park Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit in Melbourne, some 70km from Geelong where the existing Cadel’s Race events start and finish.
The men’s race will be contested over 22 laps of the 5.3km Formula 1 circuit for a total of 116.6km while the women’s race will include 12 laps for a total of 63.6km.
Just as the People’s Choice Classic criterium serves as a non-UCI-classified curtain-raiser to the Santos Tour Down Under, so Race Melbourne will be a non-UCI-classified curtain-raiser for Cadel’s Race. And just as the same teams that race the Tour Down Under are obliged to take part in the People’s Choice Classic, so the teams of Cadel’s Race will take part in Race Melbourne. Teams will, however, be able to swap out individual riders between Race Melbourne and Cadel’s Race should they wish.
Organisers of Cadel’s Race today also revealed the teamlist for the 2017 men’s race. Thirteen of the sport’s 17 WorldTour teams will be in attendance at the newly promoted WorldTour event, while the remaining five spots will be taken by four Pro Continental squads and an Australian national team. Headlining the national team will be promising young riders Michael Storer, Jai Hindley and Lucas Hamilton.
“It is a great opportunity to showcase ourselves against the WorldTour, but also learn and gain experience from the best cyclists in the world,” Hamilton said of Race Melbourne. “To also have them racing in Australia, is even a bigger bonus.”
The promotion of Cadel’s Race to the WorldTour in 2017 is a step forward for Australian cycling, but also means the country’s third-division teams — the Continental teams — are no longer able to take part. Event organisers today confirmed that the Continental teams won’t be able to take part in Race Melbourne either. (UPDATE: CyclingTips understands there are plans afoot to invite several Continental teams to take part in the 2017 Race Melbourne.)
The Cadel’s Race women’s event retains its UCI 1.2 classification in 2017 but has attracted a significantly stronger international contingent than in previous years. Among the teams on the startlist will be Orica-Scott (currently Orica-AIS), UnitedHealthcare, Canyon-SRAM and Hagens Berman Supermint, the last of which is headlined by 2015 Australian road champion Peta Mullens.
“The Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race is already a fantastic event,” Mullens said. “Being from Bendigo, Towards Zero Race Melbourne gives me another chance to race on home soil and showcase my home state to my overseas teammates.”
The startlist for the 2017 men’s Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race is as follows:
AG2R La Mondiale
Team Lotto NL Jumbo
Pro Continental teams
Aqua Blue Sport
Team Roompot – Nederlandse Loterij
Jayco Australian National Team