• Simon Gerrans (L) and Caleb Ewan enjoyed a winning Santos Tour Down Under for Orica-GreenEDGE (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
A week after winning the Tour Down Under, Simon Gerrans will lead a strong Orica-GreenEDGE team at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road race.
By
Cycling Central

Source:
AAP
30 Jan 2016 - 8:35 AM 

A week after dominating the Santos Tour Down Under, Orica-GreenEDGE will boast the strongest contingent in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road race.

GreenEDGE's Simon Gerrans won his fourth Tour title last weekend and Sunday's 174km race, which starts and finishes in Geelong, should suit him.

The undulating terrain, forecast heavy rain and likelihood of crosswinds splitting the field will probably mean a select group at the finish.

But if the race comes down to a mass sprint, GreenEDGE also have rising star Caleb Ewan in their lineup, and his two Santos Tour Down Under stage wins show he could take it up to Dimension Data's Mark Cavendish.

"Going into this race, we're not under pressure," team director Matt Wilson said.

"Coming off the back of a successful Santos Tour Down Under, we've got plenty of options, different cards to play and we're expecting a hard race."

Belgian Gianni Meersman won the first edition in 2015, but his Etixx-QuickStep team is not competing this year.

That race came down to a seven-man front group, with Evans finishing fifth and then going into retirement.

"It's a race that's hard enough to be selective, but not so difficult that it's going to scare off people who want to ... start (their season) here," Evans said this week.

Evans is still deeply embedded with the BMC team, which will have Australian cyclist of the year Rohan Dennis as one of their key riders on Sunday.

Gerrans wins the Santos Tour Down Under
Simon Gerrans comfortably wrapped up his fourth Santos Tour Down Under title after team-mate Caleb Ewan won the final 90km stage in Adeliade.

The event will also feature a 113km women's race on Saturday, featuring the same basic course as the men.

Australian Rachel Neylan won a year ago and that proved a landmark result in her rollercoaster career.

She is now with Orica-AIS, the women's team in the GreenEDGE organisation, and like their male colleagues they are the squad to beat.

Australian road champion Amanda Spratt will also be in their lineup.

This will be the first time in Neylan's career she's defending a title.

"It will be a new challenge, racing with a target on my back rather than as the underdog," she said.

"The team has shown that we have a full lineup of girls in really strong form and that is a huge advantage for us.

"Whether it be me, or my teammates, we want to make an impact on the race and we have the numbers and ability to do that."