Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race: Strong Haas animates finale

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The Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race ended with a nail-biting finale after 175 kilometers of racing around Geelong. Being the first one-day World Tour event of the 2017 season, the race saw a strong peloton taking to the start. Chris Froome (Sky), Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott), and Richie Porte (BMC) were among numerous other stars to tackle the scenic coastal roads of Victoria. The win went to Nikias Arndt (Sunweb), who crossed the line ahead of Simon Gerrans (Orica-Scott) and Cameron Meyer (Australia). Nathan Haas finished a strong 7th for Team Dimension Data, after being the main animator of the finale.

The race got off to a quick start. Conor Dunne (Aqua Blue Sport), Kirill Sveshnikov (Gazprom-Rusvelo), Angel Vicioso (Katusha) and Alexander Porter (Australia) went right from the gun and managed to establish a solid gap. But it wasn’t until the gap went over the 10-minute-mark that the peloton decided to chase. Mark Renshaw joined the chase for our African team.

When the race reached its halfway-point the gap was down to 3.40 minutes. From then on it was all cat-and-mouse and only a matter of time until the break was reeled back in. With less than 30 kilometers to go Sebastian Henao (Sky), Luke Durbridge (Orica-Scott), Michael Woods (Cannondale), and Rohan Dennis (BMC) tried to break away. Their effort was short-lived though.

Team Dimension Data was well represented at the front of the peloton. Lachlan Morton kept the pace high and set the sights for an active finale by Haas. The latter one then went on to prove his ambitions for this race. He formed part of every move that went.

When Chaves attacked inside the last 15 kilometers Haas managed to stay in his wheel, only to give it another go a couple of kilometers later. He crested the top of the days last climb together with Dries Devenyns (QuickStep) and Rafael Valls (Lotto-Belisol), just ahead of a select group of pre-race favorites. The trio was brought back, but Haas showed no signs of weakness.

Froome and Porte were the next to go. Their respective moves were both covered and all looked set for a sprint-finale. Haas, who had helped to bring them back, was right at the front of the pack when Meyer attacked. the former Team Dimension Data rider quickly opened a gap but was literally caught on the line by Arndt and Gerrans. Haas finished a strong 7th in the end.

Nathan Haas – Rider

It was a very hard race today. I came here to win, so 7th isn’t really the result I hoped for. However, I think I came off with a personal victory today. It was a very hard finale, but I was always up there and able to get into every move that went up the road. I think this underlines just how hard I have worked over the last couple of weeks and that I am able to handle the responsibility of being a team-leader. I am happy of how the team raced over the last few weeks and it makes me proud to see the support we received from fans and partners along the way. Having Dimension Data, Deloitte and Cervélo around at nearly every race here in Australia was a big push. This month also gives me a lot of confidence for the Ardennes classics which are my next big goal.

Alex Sans Vega – Sports Director

Given the new status of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race as a World Tour event we wanted to leave our mark at it. The goal was to go for the win. But as it’s racing, you can’t predict that. We rode a very active race, though. Mark Renshaw helped to bring the break back and Lachlan kept the pace up for Nathan in the latter part of the race. Nathan himself rode a very strong finale. He managed to get into every move in the end. Sprinting to 7th after these efforts is a good result.