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After a strong solo move on the hardest climb of the finish circuit, Kennaugh held off an elite chase group with an impressive time trial effort to win the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road race; Howard beat Bonifazio in the sprint for second

Photo: Sirotti










31.01.2016 @ 12:30 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Peter Kennaugh became the first Sky rider to win a race in 2016 when he claimed an impressive solo win in the second edition of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. Having attacked on the hardest climb with 12km to go, he went into time trial and held off an elite chase group by six seconds to take the first international one-day win of his career. Leigh Howard (IAM) won the sprint for second, with Niccolo Bonifazio (Trek) completing the podium.


In the last few years, Team Sky have always opened their account early at the Tour Down Under as Richie Porte won the queen stage of the Australian race in both 2014 and 2015 and Geraint Thomas took a stage win in 2013. However, the team left the race empty-handed in 2016 as Ben Swift came up short in the sprints and Sergio Henao was beaten on the climbs.


To make things even worse, Michal Kwiatkowski has been second twice in the Challenge Mallorca but on the final day of the month, the British team made sure that they will not end January without a win as one of their most loyal domestiques grabbed a chance to ride for himself. Having already been in the mix 12 months ago, Peter Kennaugh proved that he is perfectly suited to the hilly course at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race as he claimed an impressive solo win in the second edition of the race.


Kennaugh made his move on the hardest climb, Challambra Crest, of the 20.2km finishing circuit that the riders tackled thrice in the final part of the race. As they hit the climb, the trio of Rafael Valls (Lotto Soudal), Cameron Meyer (Dimension Data) and Salvatore Puccio (Sky) had an advantage of 12 seconds after BMC and LottoNL-Jumbo had chased hard from a reduced peloton to reduce the gap.


After Avanti had briefly upped the tempo with Pat Shaw, Sky showed their intentions when Ian Bowell went full gas with Kennaugh on his wheel. Valls made a big move and dropped his companions while the Sky-led group picked up Puccio and later Meyer,


When Boswell started to fade, Kennaugh hit the gas, followed by Rein Taaramae (Katusha) and the Dimension Data pair of Nathan Haas and Reinardt van Rensburg. The Estonian was the final rider to surrender to the brutal tempo of the Brit who joined Valls 200m from the top, The Spaniard did his best to keep up with his companion but it was impossible to match the British champion.


The peloton had exploded on the climb and it was a small chase group that included the likes of Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE), Michael Storer (Australia), Haas, van Rensburg, Valls, Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal), Taaramae, Tiago Machado (Katusha), Jralinson Pantano (IAM) and Luke Rowe (Sky) that formed. There was no cooperation though and so more riders rejoined the group, including sprinters like Alexey Tsatevich (Katusha), Leigh Howard (IAM), Niccolo Bonifazio (Trek), Ben Swift (Sky) and Alexey Tsatevich (Katusha).


Kennaugh entered the final 10km with a 20-second advantage while Pantano tried to surge clear with Tsatevich but Swift did a good job to protect his teammate. With 8km to go, the gap was unchanged and this prompted Taaramae and Machado to hit the front for Katusha. As they hit the next small climb with 6km to go, they had reduced the gap by five seconds and now Valls was also woring for Lotto Soudal.


Pantano came to the fore for IAM and James Oram started to chase for ONE but the gap was still 20 seconds with 5km to go. Here Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal) launched a solo move and he stayed in lone pursuit for a few kilometres before being brought back with 2.7km to go.


Orica-GreenEDGE had Gerrans, Mathew Hayman and Jack Haig in the group and they finally started to work with Oram, Pantano and Aleksejs Saramotins when Haig came to the fore. Nonetheless, it was still 20 seconds with 2km to go.


That’s when Orica-GreenEDGE made one final desperate attempt to bring Kennaugh back, lining out Haig, Hayman and Gerrans on the front but it was all in vain. When Hayman led the group under the flamme rouge, they were 14 seconds late and Kennaugh had plenty of time to celebrate his win before Howard benefited from Dimension Data’s and Meyer’s lead-out of Haas to beat Bonifazio in the sprint for second, 6 seconds too late.


With the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race done and dusted, there’s only one event left in the Australian cycling summer. The Jayco Herald Sun Tour will start on Wednesday and runs for five days and is the scene of Chris Froome’s long-awaited season debut.


A classics course.

The second edition of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race was held on the exact same 174km course around Geeliong that was used for the inaugural edition. The first part consisted of a hilly 113km circuit that included several small climbs in the second part and a long run along the coast in the first half. In the end, the riders did three laps of a 20.2km finishing circuit that included three small climbs, most notably the 1km climb of Challambra Crest with 12km to go.


It was a dry and relatively sunny day when Cadel Evans led the peloton through the neutral zone but unlike last year he had stepped off his bike by the time the flag was waved. Corentin Cherhal (Novo Nordisk) and Koishi Yuma (Nippo) attacked straight from the gun and managed to get a small advantage but were quickly brought back.


Docker goes down

The attacking continued, with Gert Dockx (Lotto Soudal), Floris Gerts (BMC), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Brodie Talbot (St. George), Jon Mould (ONE), Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), Hayden McCormick (ONE) among the riders to give it a go, but partly due to the controlling of Hayman, it was impossible to get clear. Meanwhile, Orica-GreenEDGE had bad luck as Mitchell Docker crashed hard after just 16km of racing.


Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo), Hunt, Conor Dunne (JLT), Fumy Beppy (Trek), Sean Lake (Avanti) and Luke Parker (State of Matter) briefly formed a promising move with 154km to go but two kilometres later , they were back in the fold. After a move from Lotto Soudal and Trek, the elastic finally snapped with 150km to go when Patrick Lane (Avanti) made a move that was quickly joined by De Marchi after the Australian had beaten Parker and Sharpe in the first intermediate sprint. Josh Berry (St. George) and Adrian Hegyvary (Unitedhealthcare) bridged across and while they started to build and advantage, the peloton slowed down.


Orica-GreenEDGE take control

Kristian House (ONE) refused to give up and was in lone pursuit one minute behind the peloton. He got some welcome company from Morgan Smith (Kenyan Riders) while the peloton allowed the gap to go out to 4 minutes with 137km to go.


Five kilometres later, Orica-GreenEDGE finally started to chase with Docker but he was clearly not going full gas. Entering, the final 130km, the gap reached a maximum of 6.20 while the two chasers were still almost a minute behind. Here Lane beat Berry and Hegyvary in the second intermediate sprint.


Docker and Didier lead the chase

Impressively, the two chasers joined the leaders with 123km while Docker kept the gap at around 6.15 for a while. Meanwhile, the escapees tackled the first KOM sprint where Lane beat Berry and Smith.


With 113km to go, the gap was still 6.20 and this was the signal for Laurent Didier (Trek) to start to swap turns with Docker. During the next 13km, they brought the gap down to 5.10.


Ewan crashes

With 99km to go, Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Talbot both crashed but both managed to rejoin the peloton which was still five minutes behind when Berry was dropped from the break 90km from. At this point, the peloton was slowly ramping up the speed as the nervousness was now evident and when Hegyvary lost contact with the front group 70km from the finish, Didier and Docker had reduced the gap to 4 minutes.


As the peloton hit the Challambra climb for the first time, the attacking started as Adam Phelan (Drapac), Tajllingii and Jonathan Clarke (UHC) made a move. Hayman shot it down for Orica-GreenEDGE but he allowed Dockx to surge clear in a solo move.


The attacking starts

Sam Spokes (Drapac) and Bert-Jan Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo) tried to bridge the gap but had no luck and instead LottoNL-Jumbo played the George Bennett card on the next small climb. He joined forces with Dockx while the attacking continued, with Jason Christie (Kenyan Riders), Tjallingii and Hayman all part of the action. However, all chase groups were back in the fold at the first passage of the finish line when the gap was 2.40 and the pace had gone down.


With 55km to go, the gap was again 3 minutes and the slower pace allowed Thomas De Gendt to make a solo move. He passed Hegyvary – Beryy had already been caught – and was still clear when they hit the Challambra climb. Here Lane attacked from the breakaway and only De Marchi could match his pace, with House being the final rider to surrender.


Dennis makes a move

In the peloton, Rohan Dennis (BMC) decided to give it a go and he passed the fading De Gent. Tanner Putt (UHC) and Phelan joined the move before Hayman and Saramotins bridged across. However, the group was back in the fold with 46km to go when the gap was down to just 2.40.


The peloton again slowed down and this allowed Taaramae to make a move. He was joined by Putt and Samuel Spokes (Drapac) and things got dangerous when Saramotins, Danilo Wyss (BMC), Tjallingii, Haig, Pantano, Puccio and three continental riders also got across. That forced Trek to organize a chase but they were still a few seconds behind at the second passage of the line when the two leaders only had an advantage of 1.25.


Valls takes off

The gap was melting away as Dimension Data and Lotto Soudal started to chase hard and the escapees hit the Challambra climb with just 20 seconds in hand over the chasers that had nearly been caught. As soon as they started to climb, Wyss made a big attack to bridge across to the two leaders and he immediately joined forces with teammate De Marchi while Lane was dropped.


At the top of the climb, Valls, Pantano and a UHC rider joined the two BMC riders and as Taaramae, Kennaugh, Machado, van Rensburg and another three riders got across, a 12-rider group gathered. However, they barely had any advantage and so Valls took off in a solo move as they hit the next small climb.


Meyer and Puccio join the action

The rest of the group was caught and instead Haig tried to bridge across. He was joined by Meyer, Machado, Sebastian Henao (Sky), Puccio, Boswell, Damien Howson (Orica-GreenEDGE), Shaw and a few more riders before they hit the next climb.


Puccio, Meyer, Howson, Machado and Shaw combined forces to form a 5-rider chase group from which the former two bridged across to the lone Valls. Howard joined the chasers, followed by Christie, but the chasers were back in the fold with 23km to go.


Christie tried again and got some welcome company from Saramotins, Howard and Howson. With Saramotins sacrificing himself for Howard, they started the final 20.2km lap with a 15-second deficit, with the peloton following close behind. BMC and LottoNL-Jumbo  got organized and started to chase hard with De Marchi and Tjallingii and they had caught the chasers before they hit the Challambra climb where Kennaugh made his race-winning move.



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