Israel – Premier Tech’s Australian racing season came to a close with Corbin Strong sprinting to fourth place at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, after a brilliant ride from the team all day.
The way the team took on the race was representative of the past two weeks in Australia, following Stevie Williams Tour Down Under stage and General Classification win, and Corbin Strong’s third place at the Surf Coast Classic, said Sports Director Sam Bewley.
“We believed we were favorites for this race and we had a really good chance of winning today“, admitted Bewley. “The way the guys rode today was again the epitome of this whole campaign. We were the only team to ride for the first 110 kilometers of the race, we just had Guillaume Boivin up there by himself, and then the guys played it perfectly in the final. We had to make it hard on that climb, Corbin had great legs, and in the end, fourth place is bittersweet. It’s still a great result here at a WorldTour one day race and it does cap off a pretty unbelievable campaign off the back of what we did last week in Adelaide.”
Having withdrawn from Tour Down Under due to illness, Strong managed to bounce back in the week since and was motivated to leave Australia with another podium to his name today. Understandably disappointed, Strong praised his teammates for their work.
“It was really cool to be part of such a good campaign here in Australia for Israel – Premier Tech“, explained Strong. “The boys rode really strongly all day. I think we were the team that everyone had eyes on, and we put ourselves in a position to win. Unfortunately, I just didn’t quite get the last 500 meters right. Fourth in the end is still a result I can be happy with but we wanted more.”
While today’s race may not have panned out perfectly, Bewley highlighted the significance of the team’s performances in Australia.
“Regardless of the result today, I think the boys have to be really proud of what they did here as a group. That’s the most important thing. They gelled so well together, they committed to plans, we took the race on, and we leave Australia with a lot of respect from the pro peloton.”
How it happened:
The familiar sight of the blue and white Israel – Premier Tech jerseys at the front of the race carried on from the Tour Down Under, with IPT taking control of the one-day race from the beginning by committing Guillaume Boivin to the front of the bunch. Boivin was the ultimate teammate, riding on the front for more than 100 kilometers to singlehandedly keep the four-rider breakaway of the day in check.
With the breakaway caught on the second-to-last lap, IPT got to work on the run into the penultimate ascent of the Challambra climb with Derek Gee setting the pace at the foot of the climb before George Bennett and Nick Schultz put the hammer down on the steep slopes.
With Strong in their wheels, the team controlled all of the attacks and a select 20-rider group emerged at the top of the climb with strong IPT representation. Multiple sprinters missed the move so Tour Down Under winner Stevie Williams kept the pace high on the descent and into the final ten kilometers.
Williams continued to chase down moved in the closing kilometers to set Strong up for the sprint in Geelong, where he narrowly missed the podium behind Laurence Pithie (Groupama FDJ), Natnael Tesfatsion (Lidl-Trek), and Georg Zimmermann (Intermarché-Wanty).