(Reuters) - German sprinter Nikias Arndt was the surprise winner of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in Victoria on Sunday after he pipped Australian Cameron Meyer on the line to claim his first one-day win at World Tour level.

Meyer had made a bold solo bid for victory with 600 meters to go in the 174-km race that starts and finishes in Geelong but Sunweb rider Arndt reeled him in with a well-timed late sprint while holding off Orica-Scott's Simon Gerrans.

Australia's Gerrans finished in second place as Korda Mentha's Meyer held on for third.

Arndt needed a helping hand over the steep Chalambra climb, where a late attack was expected, with his Dutch team mate Wilco Kelderman pacing him to the front of the peloton.

"I thought OK, if he (Kelderman) has done such a big pull, you also have to come back, you cannot give up," the 25-year-old Arndt told reporters.

"The last few days, we could also see some tennis matches (at the Australian Open) and they also said something like 'never give up, just focus and try again and try again'.

"That was actually a good motivation for today."

With the climbers unable to make significant ground on the inclines, the large leading group saw late attacks from Richie Porte, Nathan Haas, Chris Froome and Rafa Valls before the sprinters moved into position in the final kilometre.

Tour Down Under winner Porte finished 21st and three-times Tour de France champion Froome faded after his audacious lone bid for victory and crossed the line in 49th place in his first major race of the season.

(Writing by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by John O'Brien)