Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) delivered on his favourite status in front of home crowds to win the first WorldTour stage of the season ahead of Mark Renshaw (Dimension Data) and Wouter Wippert (Cannondale). Ewan will now wear the ochre jersey for stage 2, his first stint in the leader’s jersey at WorldTour level.
“I felt really good all day and the team obviously backed me all day because they rode from the start and I’m just super happy that I could finish it off for them,” Ewan said in a post-race television interview. “In the road race you have to be super conservative during the day… because the sprinters are so fast these days it’s usually down to the freshest legs and the strongest team in the end.
It was grupo compacto for the first two kilometres of the stage before a trio of Sean Lake (UniSA-Australia), Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Martijn Keizer (LottoNL-Jumbo) jumped away from the peloton to quickly build an advantage of two minutes. The Tea Three Gully Hill offered up the only KOM points of the day and it was Lake winning the sprint ahead of Keizer to secure the jersey on his first day of WorldTour racing.
At the 65km kilometre mark to go, the trio saw their lead drop to less than one minute due to Orica-GreenEdge’s work in the peloton but then went out to 1:20 within a handful of kilometres. AG2R and Tinkoff were sitting in next behind the local WorldTour team with Lampre-Merida continuing to stay near the front.
With 22km to go, Lake upped the pace to drop Gougeard, who did enough to earn the combativity award, and go solo as the sprinters teams were getting into position ready for the bunch gallop. Lake continued to turn the pedals over to hold a 55 second lead at 16km to race with Hepburn and Tsgabu Grmay (Lampre-Merida) controlling the tempo.
With 11km to race, Hayman punctured and chased back on as Lake continued to hold onto his lead of 35 seconds. The 24-year-old was eventually captured with 5.8km to go as Team Sky stormed to the front for Ben Swift. Orica-GreenEdge kept cool as Jack Bobridge came to the front for a spell, joined by IAM Cycling and Movistar, but as the peloton entered the final straight, the aero tuck sprint position of Ewan saw him power past his rivals up through the middle of the road for win number six in season 2016.
Tour Down Under stage 1:
|1||Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica–GreenEdge||3:24:13|
|2||Mark Renshaw (Aus) Team Dimension Data|
|3||Wouter Wippert (Ned) Cannondale|
|4||Marko Kump (Slo) Lampre–Merida|
|5||Adam Blythe (GBr) Tinkoff|
|6||Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek–Segafredo|
|7||Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky|
|8||Steele von Hoff (Aus) UniSA-Australia|
|9||José Joaquin Rojas (Esp) Team Movistar|
|10||Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto Soudal|
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