Tour Down Under 2016: Caleb Ewan sprints to stage one success

Aussie sprinter pulls on first ochre jersey as WorldTour season gets underway

Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEDGE) sprinted to stage one victory and into the ochre jersey as the Santos Tour Down Under kicked off in Adelaide.

The Aussie sprinter, 21, sealed his first victory at his ‘home’ WorldTour race after Orica-GreenEDGE had controlled the bunch for much of the day.

Ewan powered clear with 200m to go, with his explosive sprint proving too much for countryman Mark Renshaw (Team Dimension Data), who finished second several lengths back.

Caleb Ewan stormed to a comprehensive sprint victory on stage one of the Tour Down Under (pic: Sirotti)

WorldTour underway

The eagerly-awaited first UCI WorldTour race of the season rolled out in soaring heat but it did not deter Sean Lake (UniSA-Australia), Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Martijn Keizer (LottoNL-Jumbo) striking out to form the day’s break.

With just one categorised climb in the offing, Lake beat Keizer on Tea Three Gully Hill to claim the first King of the Mountains jersey of this year’s race for the Australian team.

The gap to the breakaway hovered between the 90 seconds and two-minute mark, with Orica-GreenEDGE in full control on the front of the bunch.

Gougeard bagged intermediate sprint points at both opportunities, before Keizer sat up and returned to the bunch with still 40km to race.

Michael Hepburn set the pace for Orica-GreenEDGE, with Lampre-Merida lending firepower in the form of Tsgabu Grmay.

Lake went solo with 22km to go, but there would be no repeat of UniSA-Australia’s victory on stage one of last year’s race, when Jack Bobridge went solo.

Australian champion Bobridge – now back on the WorldTour and riding with Trek-Segafredo – did show himself at the front, once Lake had been captured inside the final six kilometres.

Any ideas he may have had of striking out alone again were dispelled by the sheer pace of the bunch though, with Team Sky also rallying and IAM Cycling and Movistar declaring an interest in proceedings too.

Caleb Ewan pulls on the ochre jersey for the first time (pic: Sirotti)

None of it was to deter Ewan though, and once the 21-year-old started to sprint there was no stopping him.

Having also won at the Tour Down Under Classic which precedes the stage race, Ewan is proving himself as the man to beat in the bunch gallops.

Renshaw’s second place, on his debut with Team Dimension Data, puts the Australian second overall with a four-second deficit – level with Gougeard.

Wouter Wippert, on his Cannondale debut, was third meanwhile, beating two more debutants – Marko Kump (Lampre-Merida) and Britain’s Adam Blythe (Tinkoff).

With no bonuses for the GC men, and no time splits opening up, the uphill finish into Stirling on stage two takes on added importance.

Santos Tour Down Under 2016: stage one – result

1) Caleb Ewan (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE – 3.24.13hrs
2) Mark Renshaw (AUS) – Team Dimension Data – ST
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) Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP) – Movistar
10) Greg Henderson (NZL) – Lotto-Soudal

General classification

1) Caleb Ewan (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE – 3.24.03hrs
2) Mark Renshaw (AUS) – Team Dimension Data +4”
3) Alexis Gougeard (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale – ST
4) Wouter Wippert (NED) – Cannondale +6”
5) Sean Lake (AUS) – UniSA-Australia +7”
6) Marko Kump (SLO) – Lampre-Merida +10”
7) Adam Blythe (GBR) – Tinkoff – ST
8) Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA) – Trek-Segafredo
9) Ben Swift (GBR) – Team Sky
10) Steele von Hoff (AUS) – UniSA-Australia

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