British national champion Peter Kennaugh (Sky) has soloed to victory in the second edition of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, attacking in the final of three laps around Geelong and holding on for an impressive victory.
JLT Condor’s Steve Lampier finished in the top 15, an finish described by Performance Manager, Tim Kennaugh as “impressive,” in a nod to the tough competition and parcours.
How the race unfolded
The aggression started as soon as the neutral zone ended, with a succession of riders trying to establish the early breakaway.
No break was allowed to get clear until just before the first intermediate sprint in Barwon Heads after 24km when Pat Lane (Avanti IsoWhey) punched out of the peloton to take the maximum points.
With 60.6km and three laps of the finishing circuit remaining, the four leaders had 2:40 over the peloton. On the Challambra Crescent climb, Lane and De Marchi (Team BMC) distanced the other two breakaway riders in a bid to outrun the peloton but with strong sprinters teams including Mark Cavendish, Australian WorldTour Orica GreenEdge, Trek and Sky all wanting to be part of the action the leaders were kept within sight as the pressure mounted.
At the start of the final, 20.2km lap, a three rider break had a 19-second lead had formed and as the speed of the racing increased key sprinters lost touch with the peloton including Tour Down Under stage winner Caleb Ewan and Mark Cavendish. As the reduced peloton reached the testing ascent of Challambra Crescent, it was here the race would be decided.
Pete Kennaugh attacked on the lower slopes of the steep Challambra Crescent climb with 13km left to race, catching Spanish climber Rafael Valls (Lotto Soudal) who was leading the race solo having dropped his breakaway companions just moments before.
Kennaugh crossed the top of the climb on his own, then time-trialed his way over the two remaining climbs and on to the finish on the Geelong waterfront.
Behind him a chase group formed containing JLT Condor’s Steve Lampier and many World Tour opposition. From the 18 man group season sprinter Leigh Howard (IAM Cycling) took the kick for second place.
Performance Manager, Tim Kennaugh was delighted by the performance of the team and the day made sweeter seeing his brother, Pete Kennaugh take a stunning solo victory.
“Steve was strong today, when the tempo went up and many of the big sprinters & names couldn’t keep the pace on the steep ascents. He made sure he was in a good position throughout. It was tough for him because in the final sprint he was on his own against World Tour teams that could lead out their riders for top platings.” Explained Tim Kennaugh.
“Steve rode well in the New Zealand Classic last week, today he rode well and he has good form. I am pleased with today’s result. And we’ll use that positivity and take it into the next weeks Sun Tour.” Commented John Herety.
Steve takes the honour of being the only rider in the top 35 to be from a Continental level team.
The week ahead
JLT Condor move inland to Melbourne and will take part in the Jayco Herald Suntour, Australia’s oldest stage race. The racing commences on Wednesday 3rd February and will culminate with a summit finish on Sunday 7th February.
The race begins with an evening time trial from 6pm (local time).