Caleb Ewan led home a Mitchelton-Scott one-two to storm into the race lead on stage two of the 2018 Tour Down Under in Stirling.

Ewan was led out superbly by Daryl Impey for the uphill sprint, and his South African team-mate even edged ahead of Bora-hansgrohe duo Jay McCarthy and Peter Sagan to claim second place.

With Sagan missing out on bonus seconds, and stage one winner Andre Greipel dropped on the punchy finishing circuit, Ewan now leads overall with a ten-second advantage over Impey.

Sagan was viewed as a favourite for the uphill sprint – with Ewan admitting he had doubts as to whether he would get over the final climb in the front group – but the Slovakian world champion now sits third overall at 12 seconds.

Caleb Ewan sprinted to victory on stage two of the 2018 Tour Down Under, ahead of team-mate Daryl Impey and Bora-hansgrohe duo Jay McCarthy and Peter Sagan (Pic: Sirotti)

Earlier, despite stifling conditions – which are only expected to rise on stage three, prompting race organisers to take the early decision to shorten Thursday’s stage – four riders got in the breakaway.

For three of them – Will Clarke (EF-Drapac), Nickolas Dlamini (Dimension Data) and Scott Bowden (UniSA-Australia) – it was a second consecutive day up the road, while Movistar neo-pro Jaimie Castrillo completed the quartet.

- Tour Down Under 2018: the route, riders and TV schedule -

Dlamini set about extending his lead in the King of the Mountains competition, while Clarke swept up the two intermediate sprints and six bonus seconds, making him virtual race leader.

With their work done, both Dlamini and Clarke sat up, but Castrillo ploughed on alone until being swept up with 15km still to ride.

The pace remained high in the bunch – too high for Greipel, who was one of several sprinters dropped, and it was a 50-strong peloton which survived to contest the sprint.

The peloton rolled out under blue skies for the second day of the 2018 WorldTour season  (Pic: Stiehl Photography/Team Dimension Data)

A short-lived attack by Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) inside the final kilometre came to nothing, and it was Sagan who kicked first in the sprint.

Ewan was alert to his danger, however, and bolted from his own lead-out to cling to the world champion’s wheel before spotting a gap and charging through it.

And the Australian’s pace proved too much as he claimed his seventh Tour Down Under stage victory, and the ochre jersey in the process.

Clarke, meanwhile, lost a handful of seconds in the final sprint to wipe out the advantage he had built earlier in the break.

Tour Down Under 2018: stage two – result

1) Caleb Ewan (AUS) – Mitchelton-Scott – 4.03.55hrs

2) Daryl Impey (RSA) – Mitchelton-Scott – ST

3) Jay McCarthy (AUS) – Bora-hansgrohe

4) Peter Sagan (SVK) – Bora-hansgrohe

5) Nathan Haas (AUS) – Katusha-Alpecin

6) Elia Viviani (ITA) – QuickStep Floors

7) Gorka Izagirre (ESP) – Bahrain-Merida

8) Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) – Bahrain-Merida

9) Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP) – Astana

10) Carlos Barbero (ESP) – Movistar

General classification

1) Caleb Ewan (AUS) – Mitchelton-Scott – 7.54.00hrs

2) Daryl Impey (RSA) – Mitchelton-Scott +10"

3) Peter Sagan (SVK) – Bora-hansgrohe +12"

4) Jay McCarthy (AUS) – Bora-hansgrohe – ST

5) Nathan Haas (AUS) – Katusha-Alpecin +15"

6) Jhonatan Restrepo (COL) – Katusha-Alpecin – ST

7) Elia Viviani (ITA) – QuickStep Floors +16"

8) Simone Consonni (ITA) – UAE Team Emirates – ST

9) Carlos Barbero (ESP) – Movistar

10) Anthony Roux (FRA) – FDJ