Dutch rider Loes Adegeest took the first WWT win of her career after beating Amanda Spratt in a sprint-a-deux at the end of the 2023 Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. A new signing for FDJ-Suez, she took the honours after Grace Brown wasn’t strong on the day and the team pivoted to a very successful Plan B.
Raced over 140km, 20km longer than the previous edition in 2020, the peloton went around Geelong and reached the Great Ocean Road. The Challambra Crescent climb was tackled twice late on with 900m at 8.9%. The main break came from Keely Bennett of Team Bridgelane and Sophie Edwards of ARA Skip Capital Sunshine Coast. They got a gap of 3 minutes but the peloton closed it down with an increase of pace through a small period of crosswind nation. With 73km to go, the peloton was compact.
We saw another break from Kerry Jonker and Alisha Wells, but the peloton didn’t give them much of a leash. A max gap of 1 minute was given but it didn’t last long. The first major splits happened on the opening ascent of Challambra Crescent. The likes of Nikola Noskova, Claire Steels, Rachel Neylan, Loes Adegeest and Amanda Spratt went clear after an opening attack from Krista Doebel-Hickok. The rest of the local circuit saw that group pulled back and swell with increased numbers of support riders. Georgie Howe and Lauretta Hanson both did strong turns, sweeping up the sprint points along the way.
However, Grace Brown’s struggles in the mauve Women’s WorldTour leader’s jersey was noticeable. After an impressive Women’s Tour Down Under, that included a win on the final stage, Brown was a big favourite for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race but didn’t appear to have the legs. Heading into the final ascent, Lauretta Hanson grabbed a gap off the front of the peloton and forced Alex Manly to make a move to try and bridge. The Aussie national champion, Brodie Chapman put in a stint to make sure Manly didn’t get too far. With the catch made, Czech rider Nikola Noskova made a countermove. That brought out Amanda Spratt with Loes Adegeest glued to her wheel.
Amanda Spratt’s slight upping of the pace dropped Noskova before the summit and she was sucked back into what was left of the peloton. But Spratt couldn’t shake Adegeest, ensuring the duo were going to be locked into working together until the finish line. The chase group splintered with Georgia Williams and Claire Steels trying to break free on the short sharp climb on Queen’s Park. Brodie Chapman made sure to get over to the move in order to hang onto it like a deadweight with teammate Spratt up the road.
The chase of four wasn’t able to make headway up to Spratt and Adegeest and got swallowed up by the much larger 3rd group led by Jayco-AlUla. The cat and mouse games began on the front with Adegeest determined to keep Spratt in front of her. Adegeest kicked with around 250m to go and despite Spratt coming close, the Dutch rider held on for her first victory at Women’s WorldTour level in her first season on a WWT team.
Just 4 seconds behind, Nina Buijsman finished 3rd for Human Powered Health and a great result in 4th for Brit Josie Nelson.
“I felt really strong on the first climb up Challambra Crescent. I came up first and we came up with nine riders at the front. Grace was not among them. That was good for me, because I didn’t have to drive. Grace did come back, but she said, “You don’t have to drive for me anymore.” For the last climb she worked for me. On that climb I rode away with Spratt and we stayed away until the finish.
I’m certainly not slow and once I was sure we were going to stay away I was able to play some more poker and was confident that I could finish it. This is very pretty. I actually still can’t believe it.”Loes Adegeest
2023 Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race Results
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