Women’s Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race 2024 Race Preview

Loes-Adegeest-Cadel-Evans-Great-Ocean-Road-Race-Elite-Womens-Race-2023-3-e1674905605884

Women's Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race History

The Women’s Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race finally made a return to the calendar last year after the Covid pandemic. The event’s last running prior to 2023 was at the onset of 2020, just before the world went into a series of lockdowns. That edition witnessed Liane Lippert securing victory with an impressive late solo break, marking her first individual Women’s WorldTour win. However, 2023 marked the return of the women’s peloton to Geelong, with Loes Adegeest emerging victorious, adding a new chapter to the race’s history. She broke clear with Amanda Spratt on the final climb and the pair rode away to contest the finish. It was the first WWT victory of Adegeest’s career.

Looking further back, Arlenis Sierra, who finished second in 2020, clinched the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race title in 2019 with a late breakaway, emulating Lippert’s strategy from 2020 and Adegeest in 2023. The race in 2018 saw Chloe Hosking triumph, the only sprinter to win the event, as she prevailed in a group of 20 riders. The now retired Annemiek van Vleuten added the race to her impressive palmares in 2017, outperforming a select group of five at the finish, including notable names like Ruth Edwards, Mayuko Hagiwara, Lucy Kennedy, and Emma Pooley. The inaugural UCI-sanctioned race in 2016 was won by Amanda Spratt, who has since been a consistent contender, finishing third in both the 2019 and 2020 races and 2nd in 2023.

This race has a history of no repeat winners and primarily non-sprinter victories, indicating that luck and form play significant roles. The course, with its punchy climbs featuring gradients peaking at just under 10%, clearly favours climbers who can attack. The final ascents, around 2km long, provide a prime opportunity for aggressive moves with just 7km to the finish line. This leaves a mere 1km of descent for sprinters to try and bridge the gap, making it a challenging race for those relying on a bunch sprint.

Previous Winners

2023
Loes Adegeest
2022
Not held
2021
Not held

Women's Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race 2024 Profile

TV Coverage

Saturday 27th January 2024

Live on Eurosport/Discovery+ across most of Europe, Channel 7 in Australia, FloSports/NBC in USA and Canada
(Rest of World can use a VPN to access the Channel 7 coverage with a VPN and by registering free on 7+)

xx:xx

All times in GMT

Twitter: #CadelRoadRace

Startlist: FirstCycling

Women's Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race 2024 Contenders

The in-form rider of the moment is Sarah Gigante after the way she polished off Willunga Hill in the Women’s Tour Down Under. The Aussie appears to be back to her best and underlined that with a new QoM setting on Willunga this weekend. It’s slightly unfortunate then that the finish here doesn’t really suit her strengths. It’s tough to see her getting into trouble on the climbs but finishing it off against the likes of Spratt or Uttrup Ludwig might be a tough ask. If a group goes clear though, she will be a contender for the podium. Teammate Ally Wollaston will be a strong shout if the race stays together or re-catches any break before the line. The Kiwi won the opening stage at the Women’s Tour Down Under before pivoting to helping Gigante secure the GC win. She has already shown she is a fast finisher and if the team can get her in the right position has a great shot for the win.

Another stage winner at the Women’s Tour Down Under was Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig. The Dane stepped up to take on the GC after teammate Grace Brown said she wasn’t feeling 100% during the second stage of the race. She was the rider with the fastest kick on the shallow climb to the finish line by far. She blew up on Willunga Hill trying to keep pace with Gigante but with the climb being shorter in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, it should suit her a bit more as a punchy effort. She will fancy her chances from a small group if it gets to the line as well. Grace Brown is a potential contender if she is back to full fitness. The Aussie will have been slightly disappointed to not be able to fully contest the Tour Down Under but still did a big job for her teammate. Brown is a rider you don’t want to let go clear at any point as it will take some effort to close her down again.

Dominika Wlodarczyk had a great start to her Women’s WorldTour career on UAE Team ADQ by taking 5th overall at the Tour Down Under. She’s a sort of in-between sprinter like Wollaston, so a tough finish like this one should suit her. I don’t see the climb posing too many issues for her and she could be a winner here. Teammate Sofia Bertizzolo will also be in the hunt as another rider who likes a sprint after a tough race but I think as Wlodarczyk has the faster finish she might be a deluxe lead-out come the finish. That said, she did finish 3rd twice at the Tour Down Under so maybe the team has them flipped the other way to my thinking for now.

Last year’s runner-up was Amanda Spratt and she pushed Loes Adegeest all the way to the line. Her 3 top-10s from 3 stages at the Tour Down Under are encouraging, even if she’s not quite at the peak of her powers. That probably suggests she has put off her form peak from this part of the season to later on and whilst still strong isn’t tearing it up either. I expect Spratt to be a contender though, with the climb posing no issues, like Gigante though it’s the sprint that will likely see her not winning here.

Ruby Roseman-Gannon
Ruby Roseman-Gannon

After winning the Aussie national champs, it was a relatively quiet Tour Down Under for Ruby Roseman-Gannon. She supported Georgia Baker on the flattest stage, then Alex Manly and then Ella Wylile on Willunga so didn’t truly get the opportunity to shine. With that in mind, you’d hope she would get the nod here. She’s shown before that she can climb well and then sprint and if the bunch catches any breaks she will be one for the podium here. Alex Manly might also be in contention again for Liv AlUla Jayco as a similar rider type but the roles should be reversed at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.

I wasn’t too high on the chances of DSM-firmenich PostNL at the Tour Down Under but Francesca Barale and Nienke Vinke, in particular, went on to have really strong races. The latter outclimbed several bigger names on Willunga Hill to finish 2nd in GC, a great achievement. Barale was also up there in GC on the flatter stages beforehand, finishing 4th and 6th in those before ending up 14th in GC. You’d think the climb here isn’t tough enough for Vinke to repeat that performance so it might suit Francesca Barale more. I’m expecting the young Italian to stand a strong chance of being a top-10 finisher with a potential upside that’s much higher.

Lifeplus-Wahoo had a strong start to the year with both of Kristyna Burlova and Heidi Franz getting strong results on stages at the Tour Down Under. Unfortunately, Burlova suffered a nasty crash on the way to her result on Stage 1 and couldn’t complete Stage 2. She was back up there though in the TDU Criterium so that hopefully bodes well. She maybe won’t be able to crest the climb in the front group but if she does the Czech will have one of the fastest sprints. American Heidi Franz is a solid all-rounder though and will be a useful option for the team to have in the finale. She could net another WWT top-10 in 2024. 

Human Powered Health will probably be looking at Ruth Edwards to get a strong result for them. She wasn’t far away on her return to the WWT peloton finishing 8th on Stage 2 on a finish where she won back in 2020. The team also has a few strong wildcard options in the form of Krista Doebel-Hickok, Audrey Cordon-Ragot and Katia Ragusa. The latter took the QoM jersey at the Tour Down Under and clearly has some good form on the climbs. Cordon-Ragot’s results at the TDU weren’t that reflective of where she is form-wise, two mechanicals at key moments effectively removed her from contention.

Soraya Paladin
Soraya Paladin

Soraya Paladin of Canyon SRAM is clearly in some form at the moment. She added to her tally of WWT podiums at the Tour Down Under, she now has 9 of them without a career WWT victory. She was also 5th in the TDU Criterium this week and so clearly has a good finish on her at the moment. The Italian should be able to get over the climb and whilst I don’t see her making moves off the front she’s fast enough to get on the podium here again.

St Michel-Mavic-Auber93’s new signing Victorie Guilman had a strong Tour Down Under, finishing 6th in GC after also finishing in that position on the final stage. She’s shown flashes of that sort of form over the years at FDJ but regularly found herself behind others. She’s now shown that she is a rider to keep an eye on in her new expanded role. Teammate Roxane Fournier will be their go-to though if it comes down to a sprint and the French rider can stay in the front group. Fournier was 7th on Stage 1 and 8th in the TDU Criterium, she might be able to take another top-10 here.

Women's Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race 2024 Outsiders

India Grangier
India Grangier

India Grangier had a good few days at the Tour Down under, getting in the break on the first stage and holding on to finish in and around the top-20 on all 3 stages. That saw her finish 21st overall, which isn’t bad for someone spending a lot of time in front of the peloton too. The French rider of Coop-Repsol certainly has the potential to make the top-20 again at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.

There are lots of attacking options set to come from the domestic Australian riders again. We already saw Matilda Raynolds go on a long break on what turned out to not actually be her bike after an early mechanical. That wasn’t the only time we saw her try something either. It’s a similar story for Gina Ricardo. She maybe didn’t stay off the front in the same way that Raynolds did but it wasn’t for want of trying. She must’ve attacked at least half a dozen times over the 3 stages. Lucie Fityus was another to try her luck and pretty much ended up with a similar story. Off the front for a brief time, the peloton was reluctant to let much go, especially on the Willunga stage. 

Top 3 Prediction