Melbourne, Aug 3 (IANS) A modest cycling race started two years ago by Australia’s former Tour de France champion Cadel Evans has been elevated to the pinnacle of cycling with the event on Wednesday added to the sport’s international schedule, the WorldTour.
The Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, a one-day event named after Australia’s only Tour de France winner, will be the first ever WorldTour cycling event to take place in Victoria and is the second Australian event on the calendar, reports Xinhua.
The upgrade in classification by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) for the 174-kilometre one-day event means that the race will feature some of the biggest names in cycling.
“I am absolutely delighted that our vision has been realised and Australia now has its own one-day classic,” Evans told News Limited on Wednesday.
“For world cycling this means the classic season will now start in Geelong and our race will become a critical part of the season with teams and individuals vying for early season points in order to set up their entire year.
“To have such an important race showcasing a beautiful region that feels like my cycling backyard is something I’m very proud of.”
Riders in the event will set off from the waterfront in Geelong, 75 kilometres southwest of Melbourne, through Evans’ hometown of Barwon Heads and along the picturesque Great Ocean Road through Torquay before heading back to Geelong for three laps of a demanding circuit.
John Eren, Victoria’s Minister for Tourism and Major Events, said the WorldTour status of the event should result in even bigger crowds than the 100,000 which packed the roadside for last year’s race.
“As more WorldTour teams descend on this spectacular part of od our state and country … the eyes of world cycling will see just how much this region has to offer,” Eren said.
The Tour Down Under, a six-stage race in South Australia, will follow the Great Ocean Road Race on the WorldTour calendar.