Strong finish by Ellen Skerritt sees her take the best young riders jersey after race two in the 2015 NRS

As the first event of its kind in Australia, and inspired by the prestigious Spring Classics of Europe, the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race one-day race format promised high excitement and intense competition. And it didn’t disappoint.

The High5 Dream Team took on Australia’s professional cyclists and the big guns of the UCI professional teams Wiggle Down Under and Orica-AIS in a windswept, hard-hitting 113km or racing along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road.

With strong winds sweeping along the coast, an early crash brought down a third of the field, splitting the field immediately. Good positioning by the High5 Dream Team saw Tessa Fabry, Ellen Skerritt, Kendelle Hodges and Jess Mundy all make the front group as the peloton tried to regroup behind them.

The bunch quickly reduced to less than 20 riders as the big teams drove hard in to the strong crosswinds, literally blowing the race apart.

Taking advantage of the brutal conditions, and her local knowledge, Kendelle Hodges launched an attack with 33km to go and quickly established a strong lead over the dwindling front group, giving her teammates the chance to stay sheltered back in the bunch.

Kendelle’s attack was the catalyst for a counter attack, which proved to be the winning move of the day. Rachel Neylan (Building Champions) and Amanda Spratt (Orica-AIS) launched a counter-attack with Valentina Scandolara (Orica-AIS) and High5 Dream Team’s Tessa Fabry jumping on board to make it four leaders on the road.

Neylan broke free from the lead group with 9km remaining to take to the line solo while Scandolara narrowly outsprinted Fabry to round out the podium.

Teammates Skerritt, Hodges and Mundy finished closely behind in the main peloton. Skerritt’s 8th place finish was enough to see her take the leader’s jersey in the best young rider category in the NRS as the race doubled as the second round of the series.

Team Director Donna Rae-Szalinski couldn’t be happier with the way the team rode.

“The riders all followed the race plan, and I couldn’t be prouder of the way they rode today.

“Kendelle’s attack enabled her teammates to stay safe in the peloton. Jess Mundy rode like a trooper all day and Ellen and Tessa both finished really strongly.

“The team is just getting better and better as we are riding more together as a team. They rode a very smart race today and they were rewarded for it.”

Cadel’s Great Ocean Road Race:

3. Tessa Fabry
8. Ellen Skerritt
15. Jessica Mundy
18. Kendelle Hodges