Ewan second on opening day of Tour Down Under

Tue 16 Jan 2018

The 2018 UCI WorldTour got underway in Adelaide today, with Caleb Ewan sprinting to second place on the opening stage of the Tour Down Under in Lyndoch. 

The sprinter’s showcase continued to build, as Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) claimed today’s spoils following Peter Sagan’s (Bora-Hansgrohe) victory in the People’s Choice Classic on Sunday. With Ewan in a close second, Sagan third and Elio Viviani (Quickstep Floors) in fourth the battle is set to continue on the stages to come – with no one looking guaranteed for the victory.

The race’s first break
Three riders took up responsibility to form the first breakaway of the Tour, as they quickly developed a five-minute lead in the first 10km before the pace settled and the peloton began to control proceedings.  One-by-one they dropped off the front leaving Will Clarke (EF Education First – Drapac) solo in front. With one lap of the local Lyndoch circuit to go, the peloton had Clarke within two minutes, and they left him in front until the race entered its final 10km.

A little help
Accustomed to hours on the front of the peloton at the Tour Down Under, Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Damien Howson once again took up the role. Unlike previous editions, he was joined by representatives of rival sprinter’s team, also looking to set up their leaders. 

No one a sure thing
The plot of the much-hyped battle of the sprinters thickened today as Greipel threw his hat in the ring, showing the world he is in good early season shape. With Ewan, Sagan and Viviani hot on his tail the story is far from written for the coming week. 

Caleb Ewan – 2nd place
“Maybe in hindsight I went a little bit to early again but usually I can hold my sprint for that long and I think if I am going to be completive in the bigger races then I am going to need to hold my sprint for that long, I think Griepel just had the better legs today and he popped around me the last minute so it was a good ride by him.”

“I don’t think I’m too keen going early it is something I want to train myself to be able to do because if I can only sprint for a 150metres then I run the risk of always being boxed in. I think it’s something I’ll  probably try to keep doing and I just need to train to hold it a bit better.”

“The sprint field here is better than it has been the past few years and I am happy for it to be like that and I going to be racing these guys in some of the more serious races coming up (Tour de France) so it is good to get a feel for how they are sprinting and I’ll be analysing these sprints and seeing where their weaknesses may be.”

“I am really happy how the team rode today, they did a perfect lead out and at the end of the day it was just my fault at the very end.”

Damien Howson
“I’m familiar with this and I’ve slotted back into the same role, riding away on the front there knowing that it was going to end up in a bunch sprint to favour Caleb and give him the best chance he had.”

“Only having to use me all day and saving six fresh guys for the finish was where we wanted to be and we will keep doing that.

“It’s different in the fact that there are a few more teams to help this year. It gives us the opportunity to save a few more guys for the finish. Last year I was getting to about 15km to go but when we really need to turn the screw to catch the break or really hold position coming into the sprint, we had to use other guys. But having those extra teams, I can go a bit deeper and get them into the last five kilometres.” 

Tour Down Under - Stage 1 Results:
1. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) 3:50:21
2. Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
3. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) ST

Tour Down Under - Stage 1 General Classification:
1. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) 3:50:11
2. Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:04
3. Will Clarke (EF Education First - Drapac) +0:04

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.