Tour Down Under: Caleb Ewan wins opening stage

Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan follows up People's Choice Classic victory with first WorldTour race leadership in Tour Down Under - Photos by Graham Watson

Aussie fastman Caleb Ewan takes his first WorldTour win of 2016 - surely not his last?
(Image credit: Graham Watson)

Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) combined a fast turn of speed and quick thinking to navigate his way through a hot and blustery final and win the first stage of the Tour Down Under today.

The 21-year-old beat Mark Renshaw (Dimension Data) and Wouter Wippert (Cannondale) in a bunch sprint with Britain’s Adam Blythe (Tinkoff) and Ben Swift (Sky) finishing fifth and seventh, respectively.

The aerodynamic Ewan also claimed the first leader’s jersey of the race, which his Orica-GreenEdge team-mate and overall contender Simon Gerrans is hopeful of wearing at the end of the week.

“It’s a really proud moment for me,” Ewan said. “I’ve never led a WorldTour race before and to lead my first one in my home country is a real honour.

“I need to thank Gerro for that, for sharing the team with me. If he says to the team that he just wants them to ride for him, they would have to do that.”

Caleb Ewan wins stage 1 of the 2016 Tour Down Under

Caleb Ewan wins stage 1 of the 2016 Tour Down Under and takes the leader's jersey
(Image credit: Graham Watson)

Orica-GreenEdge controlled the peloton for much of the day, not allowing a three-man break including Sean Lake (UniSA), Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Martijn Keizer (LottoNL-Jumbo) more than two minutes.

The task was not made easier with the mercury hitting 40 degrees Celsius despite overcast conditions.

>>> Seven things to look out for at the Tour Down Under

“I felt really good all day and the team obviously backed me, because they rode at the front from the start,” Ewan added. “I am too happy that I could finish it off for them.”

Sky stayed hidden in the bunch for most of the 130.8km stage from Prospect to Lyndoch before it began to move up with about 15km to go in effort to lead-out Swift to victory.

“We tried to chill out at the back a little bit more and be relaxed about the racing. It kind of worked as well,” Ian Stannard said.

Lake was the last man to inevitably be caught within the final 10km as Orica-GreenEdge, Sky and Dimension Data began to mobilise their trains at the front of the bunch.

Alexis Gougeard escapes on stage 1 of the 2016 Tour Down Under

Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r) was part of the three-man escape
(Image credit: Graham Watson)

“It was pretty windy and the heat as well, it was really muggy,” Stannard said. “It felt like you were suffering all day and had no go but we got together at the end, the last 10K with the crosswind from the left there, and probably got the best position on the road.

“We sat pretty in the right-hand gutter using other teams and riding off them, not wanting to push, and then the last three kilometres ramped it up.”

>>> Tour Down Under 2016: Latest news, reports and previews

Stannard did his turn and pulled off with about two kilometres remaining as Sky kept the tempo high with national champion Peter Kennaugh leading the peloton into the final kilometre.

Swift was in prime position as Orica-GreenEdge pilot Daryl Impey guided Ewan as close as he could to the formation that lost ground in the closing metres.

Watch: Tour Down Under essential guide

“It was sketchy,” Blythe said. “Sky took it up on the right hand side, which was quite good, I tried to get behind them, and then the last kilometre Renshaw came up and there was a lot of pushing.

“I think it was 400m to go I saw my opportunity on the left, that took me to about 300m to go and then I had a bit of speed so hit out and went for it.

“I think it would have been alright if it was a tailwind but it was a headwind and I couldn’t quite hold on for 300m, but it was a nice start.”

The race continues tomorrow with the stage two from Unley to Stirling.

>>> Caleb Ewan is the man to beat in Tour Down Under sprints as big names opt out


Tour Down Under 2016, stage one: Prospect to Lyndoch, 130.8km

1. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge in 3-24-13

2. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Dimension Data

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. José Joaquin Rojas (Esp) Movistar

10. Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto-Soudal all same time

Overall classification after stage one

1. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge in 3-24-13

2. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Dimension Data at 4 secs

3. Alexis Gougeard (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale at 4 secs

4. Wouter Wippert (Ned) Cannondale at 6 secs

5. Sean Lake (Aus) UniSA-Australia at 7 secs

6. Marko Kump (Slo) Lampre-Merida at 10 secs

7. Adam Blythe (GBr) Tinkoff at 10 secs

8. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 10 secs

9. Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky at 10 secs

10. Steele von Hoff (Aus) UniSA-Australia at 10 secs

Geraint Thomas on stage 1 of the 2016 Tour Down Under

Geraint Thomas
(Image credit: Graham Watson)

Luke Durbridge chases on stage 1 of the 2016 Tour Down Under

Luke Durbridge chases on stage one
(Image credit: Graham Watson)

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