Caleb Ewan’s Tour Down Under has proved a successful start to the new season for the Lotto-Soudal sprinter.
The Australian has picked up two stage victories after failing to take a single win at the 2019 edition.
However, his hard work was nearly undone on the penultimate stage five. As television cameras followed his chase group tracking down the GC favourites who had disappeared up the road, having hammered the pace on the category two ascent of Kerby Hill, something bizarre happened.
Nestled in the middle of the group, Ewan suddenly veers out to the right-hand side of the road, going on to the grass but thankfully managing to stay upright.
Commentators said it had been a touch of wheels, but the 25-year-old has now clarified exactly what happened.
“Gel in one hand and the other hand slipped off,” Ewan commented on Twitter, adding an emoji of a man slapping his forehead, acknowledging how close he had come to his race ending prematurely.
Ewan has got the better of his sprint rivals at this Tour Down Under, an early marker of where various riders’ form is at. He will leave the race with the most stage victories of any of the fast men, having won two compared to Sam Bennett’s (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) solitary opening stage win while Giacomo Nizzolo finished off a well-executed team manoeuvre to get NTT their first victory under the stewardship of Bjarne Riis.
While Ewan’s save paid testament to his bike handling skills, it’s unlikely to win any crash-avoiding awards this year, if they are even a thing that exist.
In 2019 Egan Bernal avoided coming off his time trial bike at the Tour de Suisse in what was a very sketchy moment.
The Colombian managed to stay upright in what otherwise would have seen him lose the race led.