Fast-finishing Viviani comes close to winning Cadel Evans Road Race
Teammate Dries Devenyns concludes the Australian event in fourth place and climbs to third in the World Tour standings.
Elia Viviani leaves Australia having shown he is ready for a big season in the Quick-Step Floors jersey, the most recent result he got serving as testimony of his determination and good condition; runner-up in the Race Melbourne criterium three days ago, the 28-year-old speedster repeated that result Sunday at the fourth edition of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race (164 kilometers), the second World Tour appointment of the season.
The fourth edition of the spectacular one-day race had everything: a strong break which went clear early and established a seven-minute advantage that Fabio Sabatini together with the Mitchelton-Scott team kept under control, sweltering temperatures, a plethora of attacks on the Challambra circuit (16.8 kilometers) long before it came down to crunch time and an important move which fragmented the bunch on the last ascent, leaving only nine riders at the front.
Quick-Step Floors' Dries Devenyns – who was coming here off the back of a solid display in the Tour Down Under, where he flew under the radar and finished fifth overall – was part of the group that enjoyed a 14-second gap over the top of the climb and covered several attacks launched on the descent and on the flat section leading to the finish line, as he got news that the peloton, containing teammate Elia Viviani, was closing in.
With one kilometer to go, the chasers were still trailing the nine riders at the front, but eventually managed to make the catch, unfortunately for Elia, a few seconds too late, as the Italian – by far the fastest rider in that group – missed out on a second victory for Quick-Step Floors for less than a wheel, with Jay McCarthy (Bora-hansgrohe), one of the attackers, prevailing at the finish, on the Geelong Waterfront. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) rounded out the podium, while Dries Devenyns finished fourth, wrapping up the team's Australian season and moving to third place in the World Tour individual classification.
"The plan was for Dries to be our leader, and in case Elia would have survived the climb, to control the race for him. That's what we did and that's why Sabatini was pulling from the first kilometers. In the final, Dries was part of the group that surged clear over the top of Challambra, but we decided to play the card of Elia, which meant to try and bring back the group", sports director Rik Van Slycke explained. "Dries proved once again that he's in great form, closing down the attacks. With 700 meters left, it was all back together, but not without a big team effort. Unfortunately, the finish line came five meters too early for us. We are sad, but also motivated for the next races; it's only the start of the season and I'm confident that soon we'll smile again."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images