CYCLING: Jay McCarthy has used his perfectly-placed hotel room to become the first Australian winner of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.
The biggest win of McCarthy's career was forged from a Geelong hotel balcony, which was positioned directly above the finish line of the 163.4km race.
The Queenslander, riding for BORA-hansgrohe, launched first at the 300m mark and outlasted Italian Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) and South African pre-race favourite Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-SCOTT) in a furious sprint on the Geelong Waterfront. Australian veteran Simon Gerrans (BMC) was fifth.
McCarthy said it was a perfectly-timed sprint that didn't happen by accident.
"My balcony at the hotel looks over the finish line so I knew coming in that if it was going to be a small kick (sprint finish) where I needed to go and I went there," McCarthy said.
"I've been poking my head out of the hotel window all week looking at the finish line thinking about this. It worked perfectly for us."
The victory was sweet reward for McCarthy, who spends most of his season sacrificing his own chances to work for triple world champion Peter Sagan.
The 25-year-old, who was second at this month's national championships and ninth in Geelong last year, boldly declared last week that he would contest the final.
"It's incredible. I'm not sour that I'm a teammate of a three-time world champ. He's an awesome guy and I like to spend my time on the front for him," he said.
"For me to achieve today's result is not only good for me, but it's a bit of a payback for a team who believe in me. (I'm) speechless)."
McCarthy, who predicted the help of a strong support cast could make the difference for him, was proven correct.
With a five-man breakaway long caught and the peloton shrinking by the kilometre, an attack by teammate Peter Kennaugh on the final ascent of Challambra Crescent put McCarthy into a star-studded nine-man lead group with 10km to go.
Then another teammate, Daniel Oss, neutralised Colombian Esteban Chaves' (Mitchelton-SCOTT) bold breakaway attempt with 2.8km remaining.
It left McCarthy in an ideal position to outsprint his eight rivals, even if a fast-finishing Viviani had just bridged across from a group behind.
"He was coming fast, but I knew he would have also had to start his sprint early," McCarthy said.
"I know I can hold my power pretty well in a sprint so I knew if I could get the kick and drift it should be alright."
The brutally-hot conditions took their toll, with 37 of the 106 starters failing to finish. But McCarthy said the temperature, which reached 41C, might have worked in his favour.
"It was more humid than it normally is in Victoria. As a Queenslander we get humidity up there and the two together (heat and humidity) doesn't work too bad for me," he said.
"Some days it works for you and today was my day."
CADEL EVANS GREAT OCEAN ROAD RACE - TOP 10
1. Jay McCarthy (AUS) - BORA-Hansgrohe, 4hrs 04 mins
2. Elia Viviani
3. Daryl Impey
4. Dries Devenyns
5. Simon Gerrans
6. Nikias Arndt
7. Steele Von Hoff
8. Maurits Lammertink
9. Enrico Battaglin
10. Lars Bak Ytting