After some fantastic racing at the women’s Santos Tour Down Under last week, the women’s professional peloton head to the state of Victoria for Race Melbourne and the Deakin University Elite Women’s race.
The first edition of the Deakin University Women’s Race took place in 2015, with former professional Scott Sunderland designing the course in consultation with Cadel Evans, creating an attacking style race with characteristics similar to those of the Spring Classics. Each year, the women’s race has continued to grow and in 2016 it was sanctioned by the UCI for the first time. Attracting more and more spectators as the world’s best look to open their season in style in Australia, race organisers aspire to eventually have the race included on the women’s WorldTour calendar. An aspiration that shows real potential as the 2017 event expanded to four days with Race Melbourne added to its program.
Speaking of the race, Cadel Evans said: “I’d really like to see the women’s race increase in the level of sanctioning and would ultimately like to raise the level of the field and have all of the best women’s teams here on the start line. The dream is to have both men’s and women’s international cycling starting here in Australia with a great bundle of races early in the season to attract them.”
Sunderland added: “The calibre of the riders and professionalism of the women’s teams is really exciting. Our women’s race stands alone on Saturday, so the riders are the total focus of the day. The crowds get behind them, the riders love it and they get everything that they deserve.”
Before racing gets underway, let’s take a look at the courses.
Race: Zero Race Towards Melbourne (CRT)
Date: 25th January 2018
Distance: 63.6 kilometres
Start: Albert Park Formula 1 Grand Prix Circuit
Finish: Albert Park Formula 1 Grand Prix Circuit
Start time: 2:30pm
Finish time: 4:00pm
2017 winner: Kirsten Wild (Cyclance Pro Cycling)
Riders to watch: Chloe Hosking (Ale – Cipollini), Annette Edmonson (Wiggle High5), Gracie Elvin (Mitchelton-SCOTT)
On Thursday the women face a criterium at Albert Park Formula 1 Grand Prix Circuit in Melbourne. In its second year, the race is set against the beautiful backdrop of Melbourne’s skyline and will likely see the fast women of the peloton battle it out in a sprint at the finish. Made up of 12 laps around a 5.3-kilometre circuit, the race totals 63.6 kilometres meaning the action will be hot from the gun. Sprint laps on the fourth and seventh time around the circuit add to the action, and will likely see breakaways try their luck to score precious points for the overall sprint classification victory. Last year it was Kirsten Wild who made history in being the race’s first ever winner, with Chloe Hosking and Lisa Brenneur rounding out the podium. Whilst Wild and Brenneur do not start the race this year, Hosking does and is in fighting form after taking a stage win at the Santos Women’s Tour Down Under.
“Race Melbourne takes cycling a little bit to the people. We’re at a Formula 1 circuit which is really spectator friendly and why not utilise this to showcase cycling? I’d like to think that we can have a different style of racing; this race favours the pure sprinters and I think that over time we can create a different kind of race.”
DEAKIN UNIVERSITY WOMEN’S RACE
Race: Deakin University Elite Women’s Race UCI 1.1
Date: 27th January 2018
Distance: 113 kilometres
Start: Geelong Waterfront
Finish: Geelong Waterfront
Start time: 11:20am
Finish time: 2:30pm
2017 winner: Annemiek van Vleuten (MITCHELTON-SCOTT)
Riders to watch: Annemiek van Vleuten (MITCHELTON-SCOTT), Amanda Spratt (MITCHELTON-SCOTT), Annette Edmonson (Wiggle High5), Shannon Malseed (Team Tibco), Chloe Hosking (Ale – Cipollini)
Saturday sees the fourth edition of the Deakin University Women’s race. A unique course, the women’s race provides chance for the sprinters, climbers and breakaway opportunists. Totalling 113 kilometres, the race is dubbed by many a modern-day classic. Starting and finishing on Geelong’s waterfront, the course boasts incredible scenery as it passes through Cadel Evan’s hometown of Barwon Heads, through Torquay and back into Geelong for the finale. The 2018 edition sees a new addition to the course with the introduction of the Challambra climb inside the final 15 kilometres of the race. Sure to be lined with thousands of spectators, the women tackle the demanding ascent once, and we are sure to see some serious race deciding moves made on its slopes. The course features mainly flat, but extremely exposed roads and riders need not to be caught off guard as coastal winds are likely to cause havoc throughout the day. Barwon Heads, Surf Coast and the Great Ocean Road are key warning areas where the race becomes most exposed to the elements. Along its route, three sprints also take place with points awarded three through to one for the first three riders across the line.
For those that survive the demanding parcours of the day, the race comes to a close along the picturesque Geelong Waterfront where we will likely see a reduced bunch sprint. 2017 winner Annemiek van Vleuten returns to the start line for this year’s race, eager to take another victory. Team mate and 2016 winner Amanda Spratt is also in good shape after a GC win at the Santos Women’s Tour Down Under. With fellow Aussies Annette Edmonson, Shannon Malseed and Chloe Hosking also strong contenders for the race; will we see an all Australian podium?
Annemiek van Vleuten
“I raced in the world championships in 2010, so I already did already the Challambra climb a couple of times. I am excited that they have added this climb because it will make the final more hard and that is what I love: hard racing. I would not say it is a climbing race only because also the part when we head out of Geelong can be very hard! And the climbs are short and punchy which suits not the pure climbers, but more a race for a rider that loves the classics, but with good weather!”
“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. Overall I think it makes the finale suit the climbers even more and that’s something I think can really suit our team. It’s not just Challambra that will sting the legs, it’s the numerous shorter climbs in those last thirty kilometres that will just keep stinging the legs all the way into Geelong, so I think it’s important to have good numbers in the front for the team and really use those numbers to create a race-winning move.”
HOW TO WATCH
Voxwomen have travelled across the globe to bring you live social media coverage of the event. Check out @Voxwomen on Twitter or use the race hashtags #CadelRoadRace, #RaceMelbourne and #SummerofCycling.
Australia’s Channel 7 will broadcast the Deakin University Women’s Race live on their app, geo-blocks will apply.
Race Melbourne will be live worldwide on the event’s website and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race Facebook page. Coverage will begin 10 minutes before the start time, and conclude 10 minutes after the race finishes.
COMPLETE EVENT SCHEDULE
Thursday 25th January (Melbourne)
Towards Zero Race Melbourne, Australian Formula 1™ Grand Prix track
Ride4All: 1pm – 2pm, families and riders of all ages cycle laps of the 5.3km circuit.
Elite Women’s Race (CRT): 2.30pm start, 63.6km
Saturday 27th January (Geelong)
Swisse People’s Ride: 65km and 115km 7am start ,35km 7:45am start
Deakin University Elite Women’s Race UCI 1.1: 11:20am start, 113km
For more information visit www.cadelevansgreatoceanroadrace.com.au