Cadel Evans finishes fifth in final race before retirement as Gianni Meersman takes victory
Last Updated: 01/02/15 8:13pm
Australian great Cadel Evans believes it will take time for him to adapt to retirement after he bowed out of cycling in the race that bears his name.
The 37-year-old, who won the Tour de France in 2011 and the 2009 world road race title, came fifth in the inaugural Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.
Belgian Gianni Meersman, of Etixx - Quick-Step, won the 174km race ahead of Australian duo Simon Clarke and Nathan Haas.
Evans told SBS.com: "When I have a chance to reflect on things, I will probably have a chance to get emotional about it. But it's all happened so quickly today. I'm trying to digest everything."
Evans’ competitive instincts remained in place up to the end and although he formed part of the group of nine riders that contested the finish, he was frustrated his chance to end his career with a victory was hampered by cramp in the last few hundred metres.
"I was pretty frustrated," he added. "The competitive instinct is certainly what has driven me for this last 20 years. Trying to win the race was my main concentration, but I really had to remind myself I have to enjoy it as well."
Britain's Luke Rowe finished fourth, while Team Sky team-mate and fellow Briton Peter Kennaugh crossed the line in ninth.
Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race
1 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step, 4:15:22
2 Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge, same time
3 Nathan Haas (Aus) Cannondale-Garmin, st
4 Luke Rowe (GB) Team Sky, st
5 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing, st
6 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha, st
7 Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin, st
8 Danilo Wyss (Sui) BMC Racing, st
9 Peter Kennaugh (GB) Team Sky, +7secs
10 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling, +9