Scandolara second at Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road RaceSat 31 Jan 2015
Santos Women’s Tour champion Valentina Scandolara has finished second in an aggressive inaugural Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race this afternoon in Geelong.
Scandolara also claimed the sprinters jersey, teammate Lizzie Williams the queen of the mountain classification and the team took out the team's classification.
The promise of winds had the ORICA-AIS team excited pre-race and Mother Nature delivered, with crosswinds playing a major role in the race proceedings.
The first split occurred after just 10km of racing, reducing the front of the field to just 20 riders with all five ORICA-AIS representatives present.
“We knew we had five really strong girls in the wind so we tried to break up the bunch,” Scandolara said. “This happened so we were happy with the little bunch that was selected.”
As the race moved inside the final 20km the action heated up once more, a number of attacks diminishing the remaining numbers.
In a well-timed attack, Amanda Spratt made a solo move from the back of the remaining front group to take the field by surprise. Three riders managed to bridge the gap, including Valentina Scandolara who followed wheels.
As the race hit the sharp 20% finish circuit climb, famous for it’s use on the 2010 UCI Road Cycling World Championships course, Spratt lost contact and eventual winner Rachel Neylan (Building Champions Women’s Squad) proved too strong.
“We made some attacks towards the end of the race and it became really hard,” Scandolara explained.
“First, Spratty got away solo and then I was with two other girls who bridged across. But Rachel was just too strong in the climb, Spratty got dropped and I tried to chased but we couldn’t catch her.”
Sport director Martin Barras said the team made a conceded effort to break up the race in the early stages.
“First of all we are always there to try and win these bike races and after doing the recon and seeing the course we knew it was going to be a hard and brutal race,” Barras said.
“We really saw the opportunity, because it’s been good to us at the Tour Down Under, to do a lot of work in the first 50km.
“It wasn’t about making the race winning move there but we knew that it was going to isolate the other leaders and put a lot of pressure on those who didn’t make the split to come back.”
As the race panned out to plan, Barras said the team played their cards right, but it didn’t eventuate into the desired result.
“The middle of the course didn’t really lend itself to any moves tactically and then we wanted to make sure we gained back the initiative in the last 20km,” Barras said.
“We expected numbers were going to be kind to us and that we needed to play our cards and play them early. There were two big moves before Neylan got away and Spratty was involved in both of those and she paid for that in the end.
“You come back to how brutal the finish was and the fact that Neylan won by 45seconds by herself. We can be satisfied that we played our cards well but at the end of the day the better bike rider on the day won the race.”