By Jonny Long
Deceuninck - Quick-Step's Dries Devenyns took a surprise victory at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race 2020 after proving the most cunning of a 20-man move, slipping off the front of the group in the closing kilometres with Pavel Sivakov (Ineos) and beating the Russian in a two-up sprint.
Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) came third as he led the first chase group over the line four seconds later, while Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) finished seventh 25 seconds behind at the front of a group containing Elia Viviani (Cofidis) and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).
The Deceuninck - Quick-Step rider had been part of a large group that broke away from the main field on the descent of the Challambra Crescent climb with 25km to go of the 171km course in Geelong, Australia.
Then, with 5km to the finish, Sivakov attacked with only Devenyns able to follow the move. The pair then worked well together while those behind refused to collaborate, leaving Impey to chase with the others sat on his wheel.
Devenyns opened up his sprint first as the pair spread across the road, and the 36-year-old proved to have the stronger legs compared to his 22-year-old rival, comfortably crossing the line first.
Devenyns takes a 750th win for Deceuninck - Quick-Step hours after Zdeněk Štybar attacked late on in stage six of the Vuelta a San Juan to take a solo victory on the flat in Argentina, with Remco Evenepoel looking good for the overall victory. The Belgian squad has taken little time to pick up where they left off in 2019 as the top-ranked team.
How it happened
The 171km Geelong circuit in the Australian state of Victoria first made its way to the coast, past Torquay, before returning northwards for four ascents of the Challambra Crescent climb. The short yet punchy climb, 1.2km in length with an average gradient of 8.7 per cent, would prove to be the main feature of the Australian one-day race.
It was the Australian National team who began the day's racing, with Connor Leahy, Rudy Porter and Carter Turnbull launching off the front of the bunch from the flag drop and building up a minute's advantage before Ineos chased them down.
The British squad were attempting to split the race as the wind picked up, with Elia Viviani (Cofidis) and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) momentarily detached as a result.
Turnbull wasn't done yet, though, escaping once again with Elliot Schultz (Kordamentha Australia) and building up a six-minute lead with 100km to the finish line.
The peloton left the leading duo dangling out front as they hit the first of four ascents of Challambra Crescent, with riders dropping out of the bunch as they battled sections of the climb that reached a gradient of 20 per cent near the summit. Across the top the second time around a smaller group containing Ag2r La Mondiale's Geoffrey Bouchard caught Turnbull, with Schultz having already faded on the second ascent.
This new group stayed out front until the next ascent, when Mitchelton-Scott decided to play their cards and reducing the field to a 17-man move. Simon Yates then attacked up the final climb as Pavel Sivakov followed his wheel.
The pair were then joined by Impey, Devenyns, Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Jens Keukeleire (EF Pro Cycling) on the descent, before Sivakov hit out and only Devenyns could follow.
The duo worked well together to stave off the chasers behind, with Devenyns opening his sprint first on the finishing straight and clearly having the stronger legs as he crossed the line ahead of his Russian collaborator.
Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race 2020: Geelong to Geelong (171.7km)
1. Dries Devenyns (Bel) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, in 4-05-49
2. Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Ineos, at same time
3. Daryl Impey (Rsa) Mitchelton-Scott, at four seconds
4. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) EF Pro Cycling
5. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Ineos
6. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe, all at same time
7. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto-Soudal, at 25s
8. Marco Haller (Aut) Bahrain-McLaren
9. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis
10. Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, all at same time
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