Caleb Ewan delivered on high expectations and tore the field apart during the uphill finish in Stirling on stage two of the Tour Down Under 2020.
After an emphatic victory in the Schwalbe Classic last weekend, Australian Ewan showed his versatility by securing the win on a stage not suited to the pure sprinters.
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Ewan’s result was revenge for the 2019 edition of the WorldTour race, where he was stripped of victory on stage five for head-butting a rival in the sprint and didn’t take another win in that edition.
The Lotto-Soudal rider takes over the race lead, usurping stage one winner Sam Bennett (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) who finished outside the top 10 on the second day.
Ewan’s old team-mate Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) fired into second place on the stage and picked up valuable bonus seconds as he looks to take a third consecutive general classification victory Down Under.
How it happened
The second day of WorldTour racing got underway at the Tour Down Under 2020 with a punchy 135.8km, starting in Woodside to the east of Adelaide and finishing in nearby Stirling.
Riders faced three laps of a short 11km circuit around Woodside to start, which included four ascents of the Quarry Road climb (1km at 7.1 per cent) in the opening 38km.
The peloton then headed south-west for the short trip to Stirling where they entered the 21km closing circuit and crossed the finish for the first time. Each lap featured a testing short and sharp, but uncategorised, climb to the finish line, with the race decided on the fourth time up the rise.
As the peloton rolled out, attacks kicked off within 3km of the official start, as Joey Rosskopf (CCC Team) went clear for the second day in a row and was joined by Samuel Jenner of UniSA-Australia.
Shortly after, Omer Goldstein (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Laurens De Vreese (Astana) also pushed on from the peloton to establish the day’s four-rider breakaway.
After pulling out almost three-minutes’ advantage at the peak, the bunch began to claw back the leaders, when Rosskopf attacked in pursuit of KoM points with around 96km to race.
The American took maximum points on the Quarry Road climb to secure the climber’s classification lead for the day.
With 43km to go, Laurens De Vreese was next to attack the leading group and he rode an admirable 20km off the front before he was caught by the bunch, which brought the peloton back together and set up the rapid run to the finish.
Inside 5km, Mitchelton-Scott and Lotto-Soudal led the charge on opposite side of the road, before a crash split the bunch at 1,400m to race.
Mitchelton continued to set a blistering pace inside 1,000m, as Impey hit the front with 200m to race with Sam Bennett trying to move up on the left side of the road.
But Bennett faded rapidly as Ewan emerged from nowhere to power through the middle and sail well clear of Impey and take victory after a chaotic final.
Ewan now leads the race on the same time as Sam Bennett, with Daryl Impey now one-second behind.
1. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto-Soudal, in 3-27-31
2. Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott
3. Nathan Haas (Aus) Cofidis
4. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates
5. Fabio Felline (Ita) Astana
6. Andrea Vendrame (Ita) Ag2r La Mondiale
7. Timo Roosen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
8. Luis León Sánchez (Esp) Astana
9. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
10. George Bennett (NZl) Jumbo-Visma, all at same time
General classification after stage two
1. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto-Soudal, in 6-56-15
2. Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at same time
3. Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott, at 1s
4. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates, at 4s
5. Nathan Haas (Aus) Cofidis, at 5s
6. Jarrad Drizners (Aus) UniSA-Australia, at 7s
7. Dylan Sunderland (Aus) NTT Pro Cycling, at 8s
8. Chris Lawless (GBr) Team Ineos
9. Jay McCarthy (Aus), all at same time
10. George Bennett (NZl) Jumbo-Visma, at 9s