Upset win puts Ewan in the lead
Australian Caleb Ewan has scored an upset win to open his 2018 account and take over the race lead on the second stage of the Santos Tour Down Under.
The 23 year old timed his attack to perfection at the end of a 147 kilometre stage that, unlike previous years, had a large group still in contention when the race arrived in Stirling for the last time to climb to the finish line.
“It was a super tough finish and the team backed me one hundred percent even after two losses and even on a course that didn’t suit me that well,” said Ewan who placed second yesterday and was third in Sunday’s People’s Choice Classic.
Ewan’s Mitchelton Scott team mate, Daryl Impey, was second across the line with Australian Jay McCarthy (Bora hansgrohe) third.
Ewan won four stages of last year’s event and two in 2016 but his team director Matt White agreed today wasn’t one he was expected to win.
“This (uphill) sprint doesn’t normally suit a sprinter so he showed his form,” said White. “We didn’t say anything before the race, but he actually got sick after nationals and he’s had a rough last week.
“To do that today against those guys was a very impressive effort (and) the lead-out he got today was impressive.”
The winner’s time of 4.03.55 was half an hour slower than expected for this stage and and that helped Ewan.
“I hid pretty well in the field and I had done that circuit before so I knew when I had to be at the front.”
One who didn’t benefit was the overnight leader Andrew Greipel (Lotto Soudal) who fell off the pace and crossed the line in 104th place, 7.21 behind the stage winner.
“I heard on the radio that Greipel was dropped on the climb,” said Ewan who had been second overall heading into today’s stage. “I’m so happy to be in the lead as well as winning this stage.”
Ewan has a ten second leading margin over Impey with three time and current world champion Peter Sagan (Bora hansgrohe), who was fourth today, third overall at 12 seconds.
Ewan also leads the #seesouthaustralia Young Rider classification and the southaustralia.com Sprint classification.
Today’s stage began in the cosmopolitan suburb of Unley with the race convoy travelling 14 kilometres through Adelaide under neutralised conditions before the flag dropped for the official start of racing. When it did it was a case of ‘déjà vu’.
The Subaru King of the Mountain points were on offer a mere 13 kilometres in to the stage which prompted the same three riders who instigated yesterday’s early break to attack again, this time with Spain’s Jaime Castrillo (Movistar Team) in tow.
At the Tea Tree Gully category two climb South African Nicolas Dlamini (Team Dimension Data) added the maximum ten points to his tally crossing first ahead of Australian Will Clarke (Education First-Drapac) with Castrillo third. UniSA-Australia national team rider Scott Bowden was fourth.
Soon after the climb Dlamini, safely in possession of the Subaru King of the Mountain jersey for another day, abandoned the breakaway group and dropped back to the peloton.
“I felt it was nice to wear the KOM jersey so I just went out with the target of the mountain,” said Dlamini. “I knew Will Clarke would always keep trying so I looked out for him and he did exactly the same thing as yesterday.
“He started attacking but I saw it coming and I was prepared to take him on,” explained Dlamini. “The KOM jersey is becoming a goal for me at this race. Hopefully I’ll get some more points and retain the jersey.”
Meantime the trio in front rode out to a lead of more than six minutes.
In Oakbank, 50 kilometres into the stage, the first of two southaustralia.com sprint for the day was contested and it was Clarke who won the points ahead of Castrillo and Bowden.
As the leaders approached the second sprint of the day the pace in the peloton picked with Bahrain Merida putting in a chase effort that pegged the lead back to 4.20.
Clarke again claimed the maximum points when the lead trio contested the second southaustralia.comsprint of the day at Mylor with Bowden second and Castrillo third.
Clarke and Bowden called it quits in front soon after and slowed to wait for the bunch leaving Castrillo to ride on alone. The reigning Under 23 Spanish time trial champion headed alone under the arch at Stirling to start the first of three laps of the finishing circuit.
The bunch came through just under four minutes later with overnight race leader Greipel sitting safely towards the front protected by his Lotto Soudal team mates while BMC Pro Racing and Bahrain Merida were also in force at the front making sure there favoured riders were where they needed to be to avoid any strife.
By the time the 21-year-old leader crossed under the arch a second time his lead had been slashed to 1.22 as Bahrain Merida powered the chase in a bid to set up Portugal’s Domenico Pozzovivo.
Once the lead was within a minute the bunch backed off to keep Castrillo within striking distance whilst discouraging other attacks.
20 kilometres from home the pace in the peloton hit top gear and Castrillo was reeled in. Castrillo was awarded the southaustralia.com Most Competitive Rider of the day honours for his solo efforts.
“I tried to pick up some points in the intermediate sprints (but) to arrive to the finish for the win was almost impossible,” said Castrillo. “ It was a nice experience to ride at the front of the peloton in a race like the Tour Down Under. It was a nice day for me.
“There is a lot of quality riders here, so I am going to be slowly gaining the experience to race at this level,” he said.
Bahrain Merida lead the Wilson Parking Winning Team rankings.
The beachside suburb of Glenelg will be in the spotlight for the start of the Big Screen Video Stage 3 that travels through the Fleurieu Peninsula and McLaren Vale. The riders will take on Pennys Hill Road for the Subaru King of the Mountain points before heading onto the finishing circuit around Victor Harbor.