Wild ride for cycling World Tour opener

Shayne Hope
National champion Amanda Spratt is among the key riders in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race

The peloton is bracing for wet and wild conditions that are expected to lash Saturday's women's cycling World Tour opener in and around Geelong.

Event organisers face a nervous wait as the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road race joins the women's marquee series for the first time, with strong winds, heavy rainfall and possible thunderstorms forecast in the region.

Australian national title holder Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott), Tour Down Under winner Ruth Winder (Trek-Segafredo) and reigning champion Arlenis Sierra (Astana) are among the key riders to watch.

But Roxsolt-Attaquer's Emily Herfoss tipped tough conditions could cause chaos and shake up the peloton.

"There's meant to be storms and rain, so it might be a bit crazy," Herfoss said.

Herfoss continued her strong Australian summer when she finished second behind fellow Queenslander Brodie Chapman (FDJ) in Thursday's inaugural Race Torquay, which has replaced Race Melbourne as the warm-up for the annual Cadel Evans race.

The 104km Surf Coast event took place in brutally hot conditions that nudged 40C, forcing some of the favourites for Saturday to take it easy and place a strong focus on recovery between races.

It was in stark contrast to the cool and wet conditions that greeted riders during both the Tour Down Under and Australian championships earlier this month.

"I love racing in the heat," Herfoss said.

'We ride in really humid conditions up (in Queensland), so I think the heat suits me compared to the colder conditions we've been racing in recently in Adelaide and in nationals."

Herfoss finished third in the national championships time trial and fourth in the road race, but didn't have the same impact at Tour Down Under.

The 25-year-old impressed as part of a four-rider break that competed for spots on the Race Torquay podium, edging out American pair Tayler Wiles and Lauren Stephens for second.

"It's given me a bit of confidence going into Saturday," Herfoss said.