In Team Lotto-Jumbo’s last race on Australian soil, Paul Martens finished 10th in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. The race, partly on the famous coastal roads near Geelong, ended in a small group sprint won by Nikias Arndt (Sunweb). Robert Gesink rode with Martens in the first group and placed 11th.
"Of course it's weird that team-mates place 10th and 11th, but the group was too large to really choose to ride for one,” Martens said. “I think we can be satisfied, we rode a good race. Robert and I are both not top-sprinters and that made it difficult to compete for the win in this group, but it’s nice to finish top 10 in a WorldTour race."
The leading group that escaped was reeled in by the final circuits. Many more riders tried to escape in the last time around, but the teams with the top favourites controlled the bunch.
"In the first big lap, not so much happened. The peloton was controlled and we waited for the local loops. When we arrived, the peloton began to speed up and the escape attempts were quickly extinguished. It was a kind of elimination. We kept going at high speed, so between the climbs there was little time to recover. Eventually, just Robert and I were left in the peloton."
In the last hundred meters, Cameron Meyer (Korda) was the last to attack before Arndt’s sprint victory.
Nice start to the season
Tomorrow, the team flies back home for the various European races.
"I have been pro for many years, but this was the first time I started my season in Australia. In the last few weeks, I often wondered why I never did so before. It was nice to ride here, these races Down Under are the best organised races in the world,” Martens said.
"The level was very high here. I knew that the Australians are always in top form at this time of the year, but I did not expect such a hard race. The Tour Down Under is almost like Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Nice. You must already have a nice level to win.”
Sports Director Addy Engels returns pleased with the team’s ride today and in the last week in the Tour Down Under. "Today, the men raced well. Robert was strong, but there was too much control in the group. We still tried to go for Enrico Battaglin, but he could not stay in the first group. Robert and Paul then had to sprint."
“We started the season well. It is always difficult to score here as the Australians are in great shape this time of the year. We competed well and raced twice in the top-10."