Marius Mayrhofer pulls off surprise win at Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race

DSM rider breaks down with emotion after he crosses the finish line

Marius Mayrhofer wins the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race 2023
(Image credit: Tim de Waele / Getty)

Marius Mayrhofer (DSM) surprised the favourites to take victory at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in a bunch sprint.

Despite facing off against local stars Caleb Ewan (UniSA-Australia) and Michael Matthews (Jayco AlUla), Mayrhofer had the quickest finishing kick to take what was his first victory at the start of what is his second season as a professional. 

Beating Hugo Page (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) and Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech) into second and third respectively, the 22-year-old was an emotional figure at the finish, shedding tears as he tried to process what he’d just achieved.

“This means everything to me. The last race I won was in the juniors. I became a cyclist because I wanted to win races, and for the whole under-23 I wasn’t able to win. And now I’ve taken, finally, my first win. It means everything to me.”

As the second men’s World Tour event of the season following the Tour Down Under, the race was a hotly contested affair, with several big names looking to leave their mark. Giro d'Italia champion Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe), Ben O’Connor (Ag2r Citroën) and recent Tour Down Under winner Jai Vine (UAE Team Emirates) were among those to attack during the race, although the peloton came back together each time on a course that offered little in terms of climbing. 

The most dangerous move occurred the fourth and final time up the ascent of Challambra Crescent, when Sven-Erik Bystrøm (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) went clear, and was joined by Mauro Schmid on the descent. With just 6km left to ride by the time they came together, it seemed they might be competing for victory.

They were caught only after Australian national champion Luke Plapp attacked out of the peloton 800 metres, but neither was Plapp able to get ample daylight between himself and the peloton as Michael Matthews and his Jayco AlUla lead-out Kelland O'Brien stayed in his slipstream.

It was a messy finale, made all the more chaotic when a crash caused several riders to go down just as Plapp was being caught, about 350 metres from the line.

But Mayrhofer kept his composure, darting ahead of Matthews to take Plapp’s wheel, then storming past him to take victory.

It was DSM’s second sprint win in a matter of hours following Sam Welsford’s success on stage six of the Vuelta a San Juan over in Argentina, and Mayrhofer was full of praise for his teammates. 

“My team did an awesome job. The whole day they protected me. We did the hard climb four times, and every time I was in the front, so I saved a lot of energy. They covered the moves so I could stick in the bunch and just energy.

“There was this little downhill before the finish where I just built up speed, and then with 400 metres to go I just thought: now it’s victory or nothing. I went full gas.”

“[By the finish] I was just emotionally completely finished and done with it. I was dreaming of this victory for so long, and now I still can’t believe what happened.

“My whole team, this is such a great victory for us. We were riding so hard at the Tour Down Under, but we didn’t get the result we wanted. This whole Australia trip was such a great experience for me, it’s such a nice country. To finish it off with a win today, it’s unbelievable. Thanks to my whole team, the staff and everyone, they did such a great job. They really deserve to have a win.”

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Stephen Puddicombe is a freelance journalist for Cycling Weekly, who regularly contributes to our World Tour racing coverage with race reports, news stories, interviews and features. Outside of cycling, he also enjoys writing about film and TV - but you won't find much of that content embedded into his CW articles.