TDU: Ewan wins stage 1 of Tour Down Under

In extreme heat conditions during one of Australia’s hottest summers, Caleb Ewan won a shortened stage 1 in the Tour Down Under

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TDU: Ewan wins stage 1 of Tour Down Under
Photos: Santos Tour Down Under / Regallo

Caleb Ewan (Orica Scott) has backed up his performance of two days ago to take out the opening stage and the first leader’s jersey of the Tour Down Under for ORICA-SCOTT in Lyndoch. Race organisers decided to shorten the day’s racing from 145km to 118km, as scorching conditions saw the temperature hit 40 degrees.

Caleb Ewan Orica-Scott wins the Hostworks Stage 1 into Lyndoch

Australian Caleb Ewan has powered to victory at the end of a shortened Hostworks Stage 1 of the Santos Tour Down Under from the cosmopolitan Adelaide suburb of Unley to the Barossa Valley town of Lyndoch.

The 22 year old ORICA-SCOTT rider edged out Dutchman Danny Van Poppel (Team SKY) and Irish cyclist Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) to win in a time of 3:24.18 after 118 kilometres of racing. Midway through today’s racing organisers announced the stage distance would be reduced by 26.5 kilometres, or one lap of the finishing circuit, due to extreme heat with hot winds and soaring temperatures above 40 degrees making conditions challenging for the 133 riders in the opening stage of the six day race.

“Everyone felt the heat out there today and to have the race shortened a little bit is what we needed,” said Ewan after adding today’s win to his victory in Sunday’s People’s Choice Classic. “I’m super happy to get that win because it was very tight in the end. A lot of riders ran out of gas in the lead out in that last straight because there was a lot of head wind there,” he explained. “Many riders misjudged it and it was a super messy sprint.”

Ewan, who also won the opening stage in 2016, says his ORICA-SCOTT team might not have the manpower to match some of the other teams but they are making tactics work in their favour. “We have two ambitions in this Tour and we really have to use our guys conservatively and take the best out of them,” said Ewan who is sharing team support with Simon Gerrans who is hoping to defend his 2016 crown. “They did an amazing job at the end. It’s going to be a really nice feeling to have the leaders jersey tomorrow.”

Van Poppel was happy to be in the placings after a disappointing hit out on Sunday.  “I can be satisfied with second, because I was really bad in the criterium on Sunday,” said Van Poppel. “The guys did a great job for me and I really had a lot of horsepower out there in the front working for me. My plan was to go late [in the sprint], and maybe I went a little too late,” he admitted. “It was really hot today.”

World Champion, Peter Sagan, again put himself at the service of Bora Hansgrohe team mate Bennett. “At the start of the stage, the plan was to make the sprint with Peter [Sagan], and I was there to lead him out today but once we were into the stage, about 20km to 30km in, he asked me how I was feeling,” explained Bennett. “I said I didn’t feel great, but he decided we would go for me. It’s a great compliment that Peter puts his trust in me.”

“I should have gone with 200m to go, but I couldn’t jump when I wanted to, so you live and learn,” said Bennett. “It’s hard to try to catch Caleb [Ewan].”

The decision to shorten the stage was welcomed by the peloton who found it tough to race at their full potential in the conditions. “The safety and welfare of the riders, spectators and everyone involved with the race is always our primary concern,” said Race Director Mike Turtur. “We consulted with rider representative Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal) and with our Chief Commissaire Alexander Donike, and both agreed it would be sensible to shorten the stage distance.”

Peter Sagan meets a Kangaroo joey at the sign on at Unley

“I had quite a few riders speaking to me during the stage,” said Hansen. “When we were going slow, you could already feel the heat, but when we were going fast or making a hard effort, it was really too much. A lot of guys said they couldn’t have finished [the full distance]. I think this was the hottest Tour Down Under stage I’ve done, that’s probably the hottest road race I’ve ever done. On my bike computer, I had 47.5C, and a teammate said he had 51C.”

BMC Racing’s Richie Porte also fully supported the decision. “I think it was brilliant that the race organisers respected the riders,” said Porte. “I think that was the hottest day I’ve had on the bike…. I’ve never ridden in anything quite like that and even in the shade it was hot.” Despite the change the impact of the heat meant the riders still arrived at the finish close to the published finish time.

The Stage

At the start of the day it was Astana rider Laurens De Vreese (BEL) who launched a solo attack three kilometres into the race but was disappointed no-one else joined him. “In the morning of a stage, you never know what can happen,” said De Vreese. “Someone has to be first to attack for a breakaway to take shape. I attacked but nobody followed.

“I spent a lot of energy because it was a headwind most of the way and I knew if they rode together at the head of the peloton they’d catch me when they’d like to,” said the Belgian who, unlike his fellow riders, relished the hot conditions. “I never gave up. I’m here to move my condition up and this hot weather is good for burning calories. I really like Australia.”

Astana rider Laurens De Vreese in his breakaway

De Vreese sailed over the climb at Humbug Scrub, 38 kilometres into the stage, to secure the lead in the Subaru King of the Mountain classification ahead of compatriot Thomas de Gendt (Lotto Soudal) who led the peloton and another Belgian rider, Jan Bakelants (AG2R La Mondiale), who was third over the hill.

De Vreese hung on to his lead win the first iiNet intermediate sprint at the 75 kilometre mark. He picked up points and a three second time bonus at Cockatoo Valley before the peloton upped the tempo and chased him down. He was caught just before the second sprint at the 101km mark where Australia’s Jay McCarthy (Bora Hansgrohe) took the bonus ahead of José Gonclaves (POR) of Katusha with defending race champion, Simon Gerrans (Orica-Scott) in third.

Bakelants tried his luck in front after the sprint and Hansen surged in pursuit but they failed to connect. “I thought I had chosen the right moment to attack to try to surprise the field,” said Bakelants. “Then the wind changed direction and I knew it would be impossible. I am really disappointed because I thought I had the legs to try to make it all the way. They caught me with 2km to go.” Once the bunch regrouped the scene was set for a sprinters’ showdown.

Earlier in the race Frenchman Johan Le Bon (FDJ) crashed and was taken to hospital for assessment. Race Doctor, Mark Fisher, says Le Bon is being assessed at Royal Adelaide as a precaution for possible concussion and is expected to be there for the rest of the day.  “In conditions like this there is always a concern about possible heat stress so it was a sensible decision to shorten the stage,” said Dr Fisher.

Spiderman cheers the riders as they pass Williamstown

The 148 kilometre Staging Connections Stage 2 will start in the Adelaide Hills town of Stirling island sweep through the town five times before setting off for a sharp descent on Norton Summit and the climb up Torrens Hill Road to the finish at Paracombe.

Ewan will take a narrow four second overall lead into day two as well as the lead in the iiNet Sprint Classification and the Best Young Rider rankings. De Vreese leads the Subaru King of the Mountain standings and Bora Hansgrohe is on top of the Wilson Parking Teams competition.

Orica-Scott rider Estaban Chavez celebrates his birthday today

Jack Bauer (Quick-Step Floors)“I was looking after Petr Vakoč for most of the day, trying to stay near him and keep him out of trouble in the finale, making sure he doesn’t get caught up on the wrong side of any splits. It was pretty hot out there, around 40 degrees, and thankfully the organizers shortened the stage by a lap. A lot of the riders in the peloton felt that the day was already long enough, given the weather conditions, even despite the fact that the lap was taken out. Now we have to recover well today, cool the body down and be ready for what stage 2 to Paracombe throws at us tomorrow.”

Race Director Mike Turtur on why the stage was shortened: “The safety and welfare of the riders, spectators and everyone involved with the race  is always our primary concern. We consulted with rider representative Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal) and with our Chief Commissaire Alexander Donike, and both agreed it would be sensible to shorten the stage distance.”

Stage 1  (provisional)
1 *EWAN Caleb ORS 03:24:18
2 *VAN POPPEL Danny SKY ST
3 BENNETT Sam BOH ST
4 KUMP Marko UAD ST
5 *BONIFAZIO Niccolo TBM ST
6 ARNDT Nikias SUN ST
7 PLANCKAERT Baptiste KAT ST
8 THEUNS Edward TFS ST
9 *SCOTSON Miles BMC ST
10 DE BIE Sean LTS ST
11 RENSHAW Mark DDD ST
12 MCCARTHY Jay BOH ST
13 *MANZIN Lorrenzo FDJ ST
14 ROUX Anthony FDJ ST
15 BARBERO CUESTA Carlos MOV ST
16 WAGNER Robert TLJ ST
17 SUTTERLIN Jasha MOV ST
18 SAGAN Peter BOH ST
19 BEVIN Patrick CDT ST
20 MACHADO Tiago KAT ST
21 *HAMILTON Chris SUN ST
22 BRESCHEL Matti AST ST
23 BAUER Jack QST ST
24 HAAS Nathan DDD ST
25 VALLS Rafael LTS ST
26 EARLE Nathan AUS ST
27 GESINK Robert TLJ ST
28 VAKOC Petr QST ST
29 ULISSI Diego UAD ST
30 BAK Lars Ytting LTS ST
31 SANCHEZ Luis-Leon AST ST
32 VELITS Martin QST ST
33 THOMAS Geraint SKY ST
34 LADAGNOUS Matthieu FDJ ST
35 MARTENS Paul TLJ ST
36 SWIFT Ben UAD ST
37 DENNIS Rohan BMC ST
38 PORTE Richie BMC ST
39 BRAMBILLA Gianluca QST ST
40 COURTEILLE Arnaud FDJ ST
41 WYSS Danilo BMC ST
42 MEYER Cameron AUS ST
43 ROWE Luke SKY ST
44 GERRANS Simon ORS ST
45 BYSTROM Sven Erik KAT ST
46 *HAMILTON Lucas AUS ST
47 VALGREN Michael AST ST
48 PANTANO Jarlinson TFS ST
49 KELDERMAN Wilco SUN ST
50 CHAVES Johan Esteban ORS ST
51 POZZOVIVO Domenico ALM ST
52 IMPEY Daryl ORS ST
53 ARASHIRO Yukiya TBM ST
54 *EIKING Odd Christian FDJ ST
55 BIDARD Francois ALM ST
56 VENTOSO Francisco BMC ST
57 CHEVRIER Clement ALM ST
58 BRAJKOVIC Janez TBM ST
59 MONTAGUTI Matteo ALM ST
60 SELIG Rudiger BOH ST
61 VAN ASBROECK Tom CDT ST
62 GONCALVES José KAT ST
63 HENAO Sergio Luis SKY ST
64 ELISSONDE Kenny SKY ST
65 *GUERREIRO Ruben TFS ST
66 MEINTJES Louis UAD ST
67 FROHLINGER Johannes SUN ST
68 DE KORT Koen TFS ST
69 BAKELANTS Jan ALM ST
70 KLUGE Roger ORS ST
71 LAENGEN Vegard Stake UAD ST
72 *JENNER Samuel AUS ST
73 *HENAO GOMEZ Sebastian SKY ST
74 HOWES Alex CDT ST
75 *MAS Enric QST ST
76 MOINARD Amael BMC ST
77 *MAISON Jeremy FDJ ST
78 WOODS Michael CDT ST
79 ZAKHAROV Artyom AST ST
80 *MUHLBERGER Gregor BOH ST
81 DE LA PARTE Victor MOV ST
82 IZAGUIRRE Gorka MOV ST
83 CARUSO Damiano BMC ST
84 SLAGTER Tom-Jelte CDT ST
85 TIRALONGO Paolo AST ST
86 DIDIER Laurent TFS ST
87 MARCATO Marco UAD ST
88 BATTAGLIN Enrico TLJ ST
89 *RESTREPO VALENCIA Jhonatan KAT ST
90 LAMMERTINK Maurits KAT ST
91 *SHAW James LTS ST
92 *HINDLEY Jai AUS ST
93 JANSE VAN RENSBURG Jacques DDD ST
94 VISCONTI Giovanni TBM ST
95 MORI Manuele UAD ST
96 GASTAUER Ben ALM ST
97 GESCHKE Simon SUN ST
98 CINK Ondrej TBM ST
99 *SOLER GIMENEZ Marc MOV ST
100 CAPECCHI Eros QST ST
101 *STORER Michael AUS ST
102 GRMAY Tsgabu Gebremaryam TBM ST
103 *SCOTSON Callum AUS ST
104 *VERMEULEN Alexey TLJ ST
105 ARMEE Sander LTS ST
106 STETINA Peter TFS ST
107 HERRADA Jesus MOV ST
108 HANSEN Adam LTS ST
109 *PEDERSEN Mads TFS ST
110 HERRADA LOPEZ Jose MOV ST
111 *BOUWMAN Koen TLJ ST
112 CLARKE William CDT ST
113 MORTON Lachlan David DDD ST
114 BERARD Julien ALM ST
115 POSTLBERGER Lukas BOH ST
116 VICIOSO Angel KAT ST
117 DE GENDT Thomas LTS ST
118 SCULLY Thomas CDT ST
119 DEVENYNS Dries QST ST
120 *O’CONNOR Ben DDD ST
121 KOLAR Michael BOH 15
122 *BAUHAUS Phil SUN ST
123 FENG Chun Kai TBM 23
124 FARRAR Tyler DDD 26
125 VENTER Jaco DDD 30
126 STANNARD Ian SKY 32
127 *HOFSTEDE Lennard SUN 50
128 LINDEMAN Bert-Jan TLJ ST
129 DURBRIDGE Luke ORS ST
130 HOWSON Damien ORS 03:35
131 GATTO Oscar AST ST
132 DE VREESE Laurens AST 06:56

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