After an exciting opening of the 2023 Women’s World Tour season, the women are back again to compete in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race celebrating its third year on the World Tour. As with the Santos Tour Down Under, the event is returning following a 2-year cancellation due to the pandemic to the great delight of Australian cycling fans.
The one-day modern day classic is set for a week from Saturday, on January 28th, continuing its tradition racing on the same course as the men. Organizers announced they will continue to award equal prize money to both the elite men and women as in years past.
Taking place just south of Melbourne along the famous Surf Course, the route features sections from the 2010 UCI Road World Championship course. The women will navigate 143km of rolling hills, with both a Queen of the Mountain and Sprint classification award to be presented, along with the Gerry Ryan Best Young Rider under the age of 25.
Following the neutral zone, the bunch will depart the Geelong waterfront, heading south through the city out to the rolling hills of the country. A breakaway will be eager to escape should the peloton allow the opportunity.
After descending towards the coast, the peloton could face cross winds towards Barwon Heads. The rolling hills and winds off the coast will make for an exciting race as they navigate the Thirteenth Beach coastline, near the home base of Cadel Evans. Should a breakaway escape, they will hope for favorable winds, enough to make it to the finishing circuits with a solid gap at 33km to go.
Passing Bell Beach, riders will loop back around through town to face the Challambra Climb for the first time. As the only climb on course and in order to confirm the Queen of the Mountain leader, they will loop around once more giving a chance to preview the finish for the remaining sprinters or punchy climbers still in contention.
So early in the season, the top riders are continuing to find their form, leaving opportunity open for up and coming talent, hungry for their first World Tour victory.
Riders to Watch
2023 teams have yet to be confirmed, though many teams that competed at the Santos Tour Down Under are expected to race on Saturday. Grace Brown is a heavy favorite, after earning her first victory of 2023 last week, winning the overall GC at the Tour Down Under and the sprint classification.
Liane Lamppert of Team Movistar is the defending champion, then racing for Team Sunweb. Team Movistar did not make the trek to Australia for the early season, thus both the German National Road Champion and her teammate and 2019 Champion Arlenis Sierra will not be racing.
Amanda Spratt racing for Trek-Segafredo was a mere 10 seconds behind Brown on GC at the Tour Down Under. The Aussie also won the Queen of the Mountain classification last week, and will be hungry to notch her first win of the season. Both Human Powered Health and EF Education – TIBCO- SVB had strong showings, hoping to continue that momentum on Saturday.
Daria Pikulik upset the favorites, winning stage 1, while her Human Powered Health teammate, Kiwi Henrietta Christie won the Best Young Rider classification and finished in the top ten on GC. The course on Saturday could favor Christie as she eyes a spot on the podium.
EF Education’s Georgia Williams finished third on GC last Tuesday, while the team won the team classification having three in the top ten with Krista Doebel-Hickok and Abi Smith. Williams is on form, after a stellar showing at the Tour Down Under, hungry to best her third place near her New Zealand home before the pro peloton returns to Europe.
Other notable riders include Aussie Ruby Roseman-Gannon of the Australian Team Jayco Alula, and Danielle de Francesco of the new Zaaf Cycling Team. Catch all the action beginning at 12:20 local time on Saturday with a recap of the results and winners here on Voxwomen.
When: 28 January
Where: South Australia
What: 1-day classic
Riders to watch:
Grace Brown *****
Amanda Spratt ****
Ruby Roseman-Gannon ***
Henrietta Christie **
‘Watch the Femmes’ TV Coverage: 7mate & 7plus, Eurosport, Sport5
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Preview by Rebecca Reza