04 February, 2017

The Cadel Evans show rolls into town again...

After Friday's paddle, I switched the 'yak for the bike and on Saturday morning headed out onto course to watch the women's event in the third edition of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. As I have done in previous years, I headed round the river and took up position along with one other interested local at the foot of the Breakwater Bridge to wait.
The peloton rides over Breakwater Bridge
The tail end
As usual, the arrival of the peloton was presaged by a barrage of scouts and photographers on motorbikes, police bikes, police cars, the race director's car, the commissaire and finally the lead car. Within minutes the riders had come and gone and whilst they made their way to Barwon Heads, I headed to Fyansford.
After a stop for lunch under the shade of the peppercorns, I took up position at the bottom of The Deviation and waited for the riders to return. As I did so, I spotted Sebastian Flaccavento on one of his modified kid's bikes, about to slog his way up the Fyansford Hill ("Cementies" to the locals). As he has done in previous years, I presume Sebastian was the last of around 3,500 riders up the hill in the People's Ride which preceded the women's race.
Not happy with one ride, Sebastian also rode up "Cementies" prior to the
men's race on Sunday
By about 2:15pm the helicopters filming the race came into view over Highton and a few minutes later the riders descended on Fyansford. Significant winds out on the couse had fragmented the peloton. The first rider to enter Fyansford was English rider Emma Pooley with a handy lead heading up "Cementies" however, in a sign of things to come the following day, she was reeled in with the race eventually being won in a bunch sprint by the Dutch rider Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) ahead of Ruth Winder (Unitedhealthcare Pro Cycling Team) and Mayuko Hagiwara (Wiggle High5).
Lead rider Emma Pooley hits Fyansford
The remains of a fragmented peloton riding down The Deviation
On Sunday it was back on the bike and out to see the men's race. Once again I watched the riders leave town from the Breakwater Bridge before heading back to Fyansford. This time I opted for a position halfway up "Cementies" from which to view proceedings.
The peloton crossing the Barwon at Breakwater
The riders came and went, viewed by a cluster of interested locals and I headed off firstly to Queen's Park, then to the bottom of Challambra Crescent followed by a position on the rowing course to watch as the peloton proceeded to reel in a four man breakaway which had been out in front since the opening kilometres of the race.
Riding up "Cementies" with a glimpse of a Eugene von Guerard view
in the background
Lap 1: racing onto the Queen's Park Bridge
Lap 2: heading for Challambra Crescent via the Barwon at Highton
Lap 3: the final time along Barrabool Rd
With the third lap of the city circuit underway, I headed down to the Waterfront to watch what turned out to be a dramatic finish which saw German rider Nikias Arndt (Team Sunweb) win by half a bike length from Simon Gerrans (Orica-Scott) and an unfortunate Cameron Meyer (Korda Mentha Real Estate Australian National Team) who had led the final sprint only seconds before in third place.
100m to go as Arndt, Gerrans and Meyer sprint for the finish line