When the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race (also known as the Deakin University Elite Women’s Road Race) first stepped onto the Women’s WorldTour in 2020, it was a lauded move but the warm welcome of the fans wasn’t matched by the weather.
Filthy conditions greeted the riders, with rain and heavy clouds that interrupted the broadcast, sent spectators scurrying and worst of all contributed to a crash in which much of the field was caught up.
That meant that after Liane Lippert sprinted to her first Women’s WorldTour victory, many soigneurs from other teams were left waiting anxiously at the finish line hoping their riders would not be on injured list. Almost a third of the field ended up with a DNF beside their name.
It was not the Women’s WorldTour debut the organisers hoped for, but there was always next year, right? But it turns out there wasn’t, or the year after for that matter given the two years of COVID-19 pandemic cancellations. But now finally in 2023, on January 28, the chance to hit refresh has come again.
This time the event will be the second Women’s WorldTour race of the season. The Women’s Tour Down Under opened the series with its debut, where FDJ Suez’ Grace Brown swept to victory ahead of Trek-Segafredo’s Amanda Spratt.
The 143km Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, which starts and finishes in Geelong, could again prove to be a battle among two of the world’s strongest teams, or perhaps a chance for redemption for those with a summer of racing in Australia that hasn’t lived up to hopes so far.
Cyclingnews will be in Geelong to cover the race, gathering all the important news, rider reaction and delivering race analysis.
The route – More Challambra
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There have been some changes to the course since the last edition in 2020. The start runs in the opposite direction, providing some hillier sections earlier to get attacks away. There is also more of Challambra Crescent, the short but steep climb which came to prominence in 2010 when riders like Cadel Evans and Marianne Vos delighted fans on the crowd-lined rise as they pushed the pace in the World Championships road races. The two local loops for the women also mean the race is longer, extending from 121.5km in total to 143km, making it the longest day of UCI racing in the Australian summer calendar for the women.
The course starts and finishes by…