British champion Peter Kennaugh wins Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race

Manxman earns Team Sky first victory of 2016 season

British champion Peter Kennaugh foiled the sprinters with a late attack to earn Team Sky’s first victory of the 2016 pro cycling season.

In a victory reminiscent of his Criterium du Dauphine stage one triumph in 2015, Kennaugh bolted clear of a splintered peloton on the final lap – using the Challambra climb as a platform his attack – and could not be brought back.

After Chris Lawless (JLT Condor), Mike Cuming (State of Matter) and Kristian House (ONE Pro Cycling) all won stages at the New Zealand Cycle Classic, Kennaugh’s victory is also the biggest British success of the season so far too.

On the day Mark Cavendish made his Team Dimension Data debut, it was his fellow Manxman Kennaugh who instead stole the headlines with another display of what he is capable of.

The day had started with a rapid pace being set in the bunch, though it wasn’t until the first intermediate sprint a break went clear, instigated by Patrick Lane (Avanti-Isowhey).

Lane, Alessandro de Marchi (BMC Racing), Josh Berry (St George Merida) and Adrian Heryvary (UnitedHealthCare) made the move and were allowed to build up a sizable lead.

Undeterred House and Morgan Smith (Kenyan Riders Downunder) bridged across, with the advantage more than six minutes when they joined the leaders ahead of the second sprint.

Several teams worked to bring the gap back though, including Orica-GreenEDGE through Mitchell Docker and Lotto-Soudal’s Thomas de Gendt – their efforts also thinning the peloton in the process.

With the advantage halved, Lane attacked the breakaway riders and only De Marchi could chase – though a sizable group formed in pursuit behind.

That 12-man group caught Lane and De Marchi just ahead of the peloton, with Danilo Wyss immediately going back clear with his fellow BMC Racing man.

Rafael Valls (Lotto-Soudal) was next to try his luck, with Salvatore Puccio (Team Sky) and Cameron Meyer (Dimension Data) on his wheel with 25km to race.

Valls proved to be the perfect carrot for Kennaugh to chase though, and the Manxman caught and passed the Spaniard on the Challambra climb.

With ten kilometres to race, the British champion’s advantage stood at 20 seconds as the vastly reduced peloton – sans Cavendish – desperately tried to reel him back in.

Kennaugh could not be stopped though, raising his arms for the first time since defending his British champion’s title in the summer.

Leigh Howard (IAM Cycling) took second, six seconds back, with Niccolo Bonifazio (Trek-Segafredo) rounding off the podium but the day belonged to Kennaugh.

Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race 2016: result

1) Peter Kennaugh (GBR) – Team Sky – 4.04.59hrs
2) Leigh Howard (AUS) – IAM Cycling +6”
3) Niccolo Bonifazio (ITA) – Trek-Segafredo – ST
4) Pim Ligthart (NED) – Lotto-Soudal
5) Simon Gerrans (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE
6) Nathan Haas (AUS) – Team Dimension Data
7) Alexey Tsatevich (RUS) – Katusha
8) Ben Swift (GBR) – Team Sky
9) Enrico Battaglin (ITA) – LottoNL-Jumbo
10) Dion Smith (NZL) – ONE Pro Cycling

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