02 February, 2015

Yell for Cadel!

Following the Momentum Energy People's Ride and the women's race on Saturday 31st January, Sunday saw the inaugural staging of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. As I did the day before, I headed off on Sunday to various points along the Barwon in order to snap some photos of the men in action.
My first stop was once again the Breakwater Bridge which the peloton hit about 15 minutes into the race. With threatening, grey skies overhead, I joined a group of locals and waited for the travelling circus to arrive. This they did with the usual parade of zooming motorbikes and support cars accompanied by the expected cavalcade of police vehicles.
All together over the Breakwater Bridge
A few short seconds and they were off to Barwon Heads and with drizzle beginning to fall, I was off to Queen's Park to await the return of the field, with enough time for a coffee stop along the way. Once there, I sussed out my options, selected a spot and as the rain continued to fall, I ate lunch and kept an eye on the live stream to see how far off the riders were. As I waited, I was joined by increasing numbers of the locals who had come out from the surrounding homes to watch the race pass by, which it eventually did at about 2pm.

The entourage crossing the Queen's Park Bridge ahead of the riders
I snapped away along with everyone else as the three leading riders swept across the bridge closely followed by the peloton with a number of riders off the back.
Again the riders disappeared, although not so quickly this time, as the field was quite spread and their next move was a sharp left up the 20% gradient on Melville Ave.
The lead riders clear the bridge with the peloton hot on its heels
I suspect the front rider was not so much smiling for the camera as grimacing
Once they had passed, I followed on foot at a much more leisurely pace and headed off to my next viewing location overlooking Queen's Park at the top of the Deviation. Once again, I waited with another group of locals as the riders hit the first lap of the 20km street circuit around Geelong. I estimated a wait of about 20 minutes and I was pretty close to the mark.
The leading trio hit the Deviation
The peloton about to descend
With thunderous-looking grey clouds in the background, the field were over the hill and gone in short order, on their way to climb the cement works hill, (known by us locals as "Cementies"). At about this point, the rain started to come down again - harder. My next test was to see if I could ride the 5km back to the Barwon Bridge in town in the time it took them to ride the 10.5km to the same point via Geelong West and the Waterfront. And the answer was? Not quite. I did make it to the opposite side of the river in time to grab a few more snaps but then had to cross the river and wait to catch them on the third (and final) lap of the street circuit.
This I managed to do and set myself up at the bottom of the bend in the hope of some good action shots. Although the man of the moment didn't oblige by appearing front and centre in any of my photos, I did get a reasonable shot of some of the Team Cannondale-Garmin boys taking the bend for the final time.
Team Cannondale-Garmin rounding the bend on Barrabool Road

Then there was just one final climb for me, up from the river and down to the Waterfront, hopefully in time for the big finish. This time, I arrived with more than a few minutes to spare and took up position about 100m from the finish line to wait.
The sprint for the finish line
It didn't take long for the riders to appear and then the sprint for the finish line was well and truly on. When it was all done and dusted, the win went to Gianni Meersman of Extixx-Quick Step, second was Simon Clarke from Orica GreenEDGE and third was Nathan Haas from Team Cannondale-Garmin With Cadel finishing fifth.
Cadel and son Robel heading for the presentation area after the race
As the riders headed for their tents, we headed over to watch the presentations before heading home to wait for next year's race...

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