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Archie Ryan took the initiative, and proved well able to mix it off the front, in the final stages of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race (Photo: Dion Kerckhoffs-Cor Vos)

Archie Ryan has rounded off his first block of racing as a World Tour rider with a very strong performance in the final of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race into Geelong.

The EF Education-EasyPost rider was among those animating the race inside the final 10km when the field had already been shred to pieces and less than 20 riders remained in contention at the front.

The 22-year-old Irishman, along with American Quinn Simmons (Lidl Trek) made much of the running in the final, with strong attacks off the the front.

That aggression from Ryan and Simmons came after the reduced peloton had finally reeled in the last of the breakaway men, BridgeLane team mates Zac Marriage and Jackson Medway.

And on the fourth and final time up the Challambra ascent, the main field reduced from about 50 riders, to just 18, Ryan made his move.

He put in a stinging attack that saw him pull clear, with in-form Tour Down Under winner Stephen Williams (Israel Premier Tech) going after him. Though they teamed up at the front, the group behind was in no mood to let them go and soon it was the turn of Simmons to have a go.

He also got clear, chased by Williams and Ryan, and a few others. And when a regrouping then occurred inside the final 5km, it was the turn of Bauke Mollema (Lidl Trek) to have a go, though he too was caught, paving the way for a group sprint to decide the honours.

In a chaotic kick for the line it was Kiwi Laurence Pithie (Groupama-FDJ) who claimed the victory, with only his lunge separating him from runner-up Natnael Tesfazion (Lidl-Trek). Georg Zimmermann (Intermarché-Wanty) was third.

Some 13 riders were credited with the same time as the winner, with Ireland’s Ryan placing 4th just two further seconds back.

That was a solid performance by the Irishman, who clearly had plenty in the tank after 174.3km of racing in the sunshine today. He will now return to Europe for his next races and is provisionally scheduled to start Trofeo Laigueglia (1.Pro) in four weeks time.

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