Impey third as big bunch contests Cadel Road Race

Sun 27 Jan 2019

Double Tour Down Under champion Daryl Impey has finished third in a big bunch sprint at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in Geelong today. 

Despite taking control for most of the day courtesy of New Zealand’s Sam Bewley, and trying to make it hard over the Challambra climb with neo-pro Robert Stannard, Mitchelton-SCOTT’s efforts to break up the race weren’t enough as the largest bunch in the race’s history contested the final with Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quickstep) taking the honours.

Taking control:
Three leaders, two from the Australian National Team and one from Astana Pro Team, formed the breakaway of the day.

With their advantage increasing steadily, Mitchelton-SCOTT moved to the front of the peloton with 150km remaining to keep the gap sitting around four-minutes. 

As the kilometres ticked down, it was Kiwi Sam Bewley who shouldered the heavy load at the front before Bora-Hansgrohe also sent a rider forward to assist when the race entered the final 100km.

Bewley’s job was done at the bottom of the first ascent up Challambra Cresent, with the front breakaway down to just two riders and a two-minute 30second lead.

Finishing circuits:
With the two leaders starting to falter ahead, Mitchelton-SCOTT once again put on the pressure in the bunch on the first of three finishing laps, sending neo-pro Robert Stannard to the front over the top of the second ascent of Challambra, and causing splits in the bunch.

As they regrouped on approach to the waterfront, counter attacks began to launch.

Davide Ballerini (Astana Pro Team) bridged across to teammate and solo leader Laurens De Vreese on the third Challambra climb and was shortly alone as the new solo leader.

The peloton began to react and with 20km to go they were just one minute behind. 

Largest group contest final in history:
The race was back together on the final climb but the intensity was not toa level that upset too many riders as small splits appeared but a huge group of around 40 riders still remained in contention over the top.

Team Sky and Astana Pro Team tried to sneak of the front in the run into the linebut nothing stuck as a bunch sprint, the largest in the race’s history, contested the finish with Viviani prevailing ahead of Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) and Impey.

Daryl Impey - Third place:
"We tried to make it as hard as we could, it looked like we were the only team really trying to make a smaller group there at the final, but look, I'm happy to finish third out of the guys that were there in the final. Obviously I would have liked to have won, but against Viviani and Caleb, they are really good sprinters, to get third was a good result.

"I think the head wind (up Challambra) really nullifed all of the attacks. It was easier to be on the wheel, and having a guy like Viviani last year make the final, makes sprinters the next year think they can.

"If there were a lot more attacks we would have seen a better, more select group there at the finish. That being said, we had a good ride, the boys commited from the start, we weren't the red hot favourites to win today but we went for it and we had a good performance."

Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race – Men’s Results:
1. Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quickstep) 3:54:35
2. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) ST
3. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.