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by Shane Stokes
January 23, 2018
Gaviria takes stage 1 of the Vuelta a San Juan; Nibali’s new programme emerges following DNS in San Juan; ‘A plate holding my eye in place:’ Stewart has delicate operation after Tour Down Under crash; TDU winner Impey to lead Mitchelton-Scott in Cadel Evans race, Chaves to make 2018 debut; Strong fields for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Races and Towards Zero Race Melbourne; Opinion: Why time bonuses are crucial to the balance of the Tour Down Under; Video: This is Cycling; Video: Cormet de Roselend via Col du Pré – Cycling Inspiration & Education
What is being billed as ‘the strongest line-up since the event’s inception’ will compete in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on Sunday, with those on the start list including Richie Porte and Simon Gerrans (BMC Racing Team), defending champion, Nikias Arndt (Team Sunweb), Esteban Chaves, Annemeik van Vleuten and Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) and Shannon Malseed (Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank).
Racing begins on Thursday with the Towards Zero Race Melbourne, where Santos Tour Down Under stage winner Caleb Ewan, Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors), defending champion Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe) and others will sprint it out for the honours in the men’s race. Chloe Hosking (Alé – Cipollini), Annette Edmondson (Wiggle High5) and others will be chasing success in the women’s event.
The 1.1-ranked elite women’s road race will follow on Saturday, with world TT champion van Vleuten one of the ones to watch. On Sunday the WorldTour men’s race will feature an additional climb up Challambra, potentially giving a platform to the climbers to shake off their rivals.
“Winning bike races is the best way to get confidence,” said Porte, the Willunga Hill stage winner and overall runner-up in the Santos Tour Down Under. “So a good result in Australia in January gives you a lot of confidence going back to Europe. We have a great team, including Simon Gerrans who came so close last year and who I think will have a good shot this year.”
Spratt showed her form in winning the women’s Tour Down Under and is raring to go. “I know the Challambra climb well as I raced the Geelong 2010 World Championships. It’s such a tough climb and I think it is a great addition to the women’s race.”