Great finisher: Caleb Ewan won the final stage of the Tour Down Under. Photo: John VeageCaleb Ewan’s victory in the final stage of the Tour Down Under in Adelaide shored up a remarkable Australian domination of the World Tour race.
Australian riders won six of six stages, three of five categories, and claimed three of the top five places overall, led by the eventual winner and Ewan’s teammate, Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE).
All that remained for the foreigners were the blue-and-white polka-dot climber’s jersey, won by Colombian Sergio Henao (Sky), and the team title won by Cannondale of the US.
The flip side to the Australian swoop on the race, however, is that it may deter foreigners from returning.
Over the past week, they were reminded how Australian riders are at another level compared to them at this time of the season, due to the Australians having raced the national road titles a week before.
But that was not a question worrying Australians on Sunday night in Adelaide as the Tour Down Under came to an end.
The biggest slice of the Australian pie went to Ewan’s Orica-GreenEDGE team. Ewan won two stages (including stage one) and led the race for a day, while Gerrans won the overall winner’s ochre and red points jerseys, and stages three and four.
Australia’s other successes were those of Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff) who won stage two, led the race overall for a day, placed fourth overall and took the green young rider’s jersey, and Richie Porte (BMC) who again won Saturday’s fifth stage and finished second overall.
In Sunday’s sixth stage, a 90km circuit race in Adelaide, Ewan produced his trademark high-octane finish to book end with another bunch sprint win – taking his tally of victories to seven so far this year.
Ewan won the stage by about three bike lengths, beating Australian Mark Renshaw (Dimension Data) who took second and Italian Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) who paced fifth. Gerrans finished in the bunch to win the race overall by 9s over Porte and 11s over Henao.
“I got caught a fair way back coming down [on the corner from Montefiore Hill into the last straight],” Ewan said. “Ideally I wanted to be in the first eight wheels, but I was way back in the bunch and I had to dive on the inside of the corner and I locked up a few times.
“It was a little bit sketchy, but luckily I got into the position I wanted to and my team came up in the end, helped me and placed me behind Sky [riding for Briton Ben Swift] … the perfect place to be.
“The [Orica-GreenEDGE] team showed this week that they were by far the strongest. It was always going to be hard going into the race with two ambitions of trying to win sprint stages and also the ‘GC’ [general classification] with Simon. I think we did it perfectly. I’m so happy that we came away with four stage wins and overall.”
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