Ewan sprints to second and into the green jersey in fast finale on stage five in CaliforniaThu 17 May 2018
A carbon copy, repeat podium of the opening stage saw Caleb Ewan recover from a late mechanical to sprint to second place on stage five of the Amgen Tour of California for Mitchelton-SCOTT.
Almost no action for 160 flat kilometres and then the race sprang to life with a final peppered with mechanicals and a race splitting crash.
Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step-Floors) took his second stage win of the race with Ewan less than a bike length behind and the result enough to take the 23-year-old Australian to the top of the points competition and into the Green Jersey.
A flat and uneventful stage saw the breakaway form very early with five riders jumping clear out of the neutral zone and gaining over three minutes on the peloton.
Despite some pre-race concerns about the possibility of cross winds causing some disruption, the fears never became reality with the bunch content to sit behind the leaders.
That was until the final 40kilometres when Mitchelton-SCOTT sent Michael Hepburn to the front to help with the chase, pulling the group within 35seconds approaching the 15kilometres to go mark.
After the peace came the storm:
A chaotic closing ten-kilometres brought the race to life, characterised by numerous punctures, mechanicals, frantic chases and a big crash that split the field.
Ewan was caught out with a flat, but after a swift change he was paced back on beautifully by road captain Mathew Hayman before unleashing his sprint a split second after Gaviria and narrowly missing out to the Colombian for the second time this week.
“Until the final it was a pretty straightforward stage, lots of flat kilometres at a steady pace. Some cross winds with around 25/30kilometres to go started to make the nerves set in, but otherwise all the action happened at the end.”
“I punctured with about ten kilometres to go and that ruined our initial lead out, but we didn’t panic and the guys did a great job to pace me back into the bunch before the sprint and I owe them a big thank you for that.
“It’s really good to be in the green jersey proper going into tomorrow’s stage instead of just ‘holding’ it. It’s kind of frustrating not getting the stage win, but under the circumstances I am pleased with the result.”
Sport director Matt Wilson:
“There was a lot of punctures in the last ten kilometres and up until that point it had been a fairly routine stage, a lot of the sprinters got flats and then there was a pretty big crash and it was definitely an exciting finale.”
“I think he got back on with maybe three or four kilometres to go and Mat Hayman did a great job to drop back and bring up through the cars and into the bunch and Caleb did an amazing job to pull off that sprint and come so close to the win.”
Tour of California stage five results:
1. Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step-Floors) 04:04:34
2. Caleb Ewan (Mitchetlon-SCOTT) ST
3. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) ST
General classification after stage five:
1. Teejay Van Garderen (BMC-Racing-Team) 16:55:29
2. Egan Bernal (Team-Sky) +0:23
3. Daniel Martinez (EF-Drapac-Cannondale) +0:37
4. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +1:07
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.