Dries Devenyns won the sixth edition of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in a tight finish ©Getty Images

Dries Devenyns was the surprise winner of the 2020 Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, getting the better of Pavel Sivakov in the closing stages after the pair broke away from the leading group.

Devenyns, a 36-year-old Belgian, was originally supposed to help Deceuninck-Quick-Step team mate Sam Bennett get into a position from which he could win the one-day race, but when the Irishman was unable to keep pace with the leaders as four climbs of  proved too much for many sprinters, it was Devenyns' time to shine.

The ascent up Challambra Crescent was only 1.2 kilometres long, but with the average gradient more than eight per cent it was the 171.7km race's decisive feature. 

The leading group was down to 15 riders for the final lap of the 16.6km finishing circuit, with that number being cut to just six when Britain's Simon Yates - riding for Mitchelton-Scott - attacked.

Sivakov, a Russian competing for Team Ineos, then made a break for it with only 5km to go and Devenyns was the only rider who could stay with him.

The pair worked together to keep the chasing pack at bay before 36-year-old Devenyns - 14 years older than his Russian rival - had the stronger legs and sealed the win.

The victory is Deceuninck-Quick-Step's 750th International Cycling Union (UCI) win.

South Africa's Mitchelton-Scott rider Daryl Impey ended up third, four seconds behind the front two who were given a time of 4 hours 5min 49sec.

"When Sivakov attacked, I decided to go with him and we gave everything," said a delighted Devenyns. 

"I had no idea how good he was in a sprint, but I pack a good kick and I knew I had my chance, so I gave it my best.

"At the end of the day, I am happy I could bring it home for the Wolfpack!"

The UAE Tour is the next event on the UCI WorldTour schedule, running from February 22 to 29, before the tour heads for Europe.