Home favourites Rohan Dennis and Simon Gerrans will line up in the second edition of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in January as they kick start their seasons on Australian soil.
Dennis, wearer of the Tour de France’s first yellow jersey in 2015 will be making his first appearance in the race next year, having missed the inaugural edition as he prepared for his successful Hour Record attempt.
Gerrans also missed the race, having broken his collarbone in a mountain bike crash in the off-season. The 35-year-old will begin his season at the Santos Tour Down Under, having won the race three times in his career.
Nine WorldTour teams will be part of the Great Ocean Road Race on January 31, including Team Sky, Orica-GreenEdge and BMC Racing, with British Pro Continental squad One Pro Cycling also in the field.
“To have nine of the best cycling teams in the world travelling to Victoria is fantastic and I am sure like last time they will enjoy the challenges and unique style of racing that our course and conditions provide. I can’t wait to see it unfold,” Cadel Evans said when the line-up was announced.
Having been awarded Australia Cycling’s ‘Oppy’ award in October, for the country’s best cyclist, Dennis will be looking to improve on a stellar 2015 season.
Having won the Tour Down Under in January he then surpassed Matthias Brandle’s Hour Record mark in early February. He then stormed to victory in the individual time trial around Utrecht at the start of the Tour de France to take the first yellow jersey.
The overall win and two stages at the USA Pro Challenge continued his run of success, which culminated in a victory in the World Championships team time trial in Richmond.
“After seeing the inaugural race earlier this year, I can’t wait to be part of it in January 2016,” Dennis said. “I’m looking forward to starting the season off in Australia, and where better than along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria being cheered on by a passionate Aussie crowd.”
Etixx-Quick Step’s Gianni Meersman won the first Great Ocean Road Race ahead of Australian’s Simon Clarke (Orica) and Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin). Evans finished fifth in his own race, behind Sky’s Luke Rowe.