Caleb Ewan wins Stage 2 of Tour Down Under, takes lead

Getty Images
0 Comments

ADELAIDE, Australia — Caleb Ewan of Australia won stage two and claimed the overall lead in the Tour Down Under cycle race Wednesday as the first event of the World Tour season wound through landscapes scorched by recent wildfires.

Ewan showed his immense power in the uphill sprint to the finish to race away from defending champion Daryl Impey of South Africa at the end of the 135.8 kilometer (84 mile) stage from Woodside to Stirling.

He claimed his eighth stage win of his career on his home tour in 3 hours, 27 minutes, 31 seconds.

Australia’s Nathan Haas was third and Jasper Philipsen of Belgium fourth.

First stage winner Sam Bennett of Ireland was 13th, credited with the same time as Ewan. But Ewan claimed a 10 second time bonus for the stage win to take over from Bennett in the tour leader’s ocher jersey.

Ewan and Bennett are credited with the same time on general classification but Ewan, who finished seventh on the first stage, holds the race lead on count back.

Impey moved into a challenging position, only a second behind the race leader while Philpsen is fourth, four seconds behind Ewan.

“I’m super happy with that,” Ewan said. “Yesterday things didn’t go to plan and I think we spoke for about an hour in the room about what we can do better.

“The boys did absolutely perfect today, they did everything I asked for and I headed to the line in perfect position.”

A crash within two kilometers of the line Wednesday fractured the peloton and left only about 25 riders in contention but Ewan stayed out of trouble and was left perfectly placed to unleash his sprint.

“You can’t do it on your own and I said to (the team) yesterday if I’m going to win today’s stage it’s a tough one and I’m going to need all the help I can get,” Ewan said.

Bennett also avoided the late pileup and was in a strong position heading towards the finish but he didn’t have Ewan’s late acceleration.

“In top form I know I can do a finish like this but in January it’s just good to be here,” Bennett said. “To have these legs already in the season is pretty good.

“At 200 meters to go I thought this could be a good day but I got off the saddle and there’s nothing there.”

The race Wednesday passed through bush land and vineyards showing the scars of recent wildfires. At times the riders rode through a brown wasteland of burned trees.

The course was planned before the fires and locals insisted it should go ahead as part of the recovery from the recent crisis.

Thursday’s third stage will favor climbers, featuring a stiff climb to the finish atop a hill at Paracombe.

Australia’s Jay Vine wins Tour Down Under

4 Comments

ADELAIDE, Australia — Australia’s Jay Vine defended his overnight lead to win the Tour Down Under, the first event of the 2023 World Tour.

Simon Yates of Britain won the final stage and moved up from third to second place on overall standings. Vine came in second on the stage to secure the biggest win of his career in a stage race.

The UAE Team Emirates rider took the overall tour lead when he finished second in Stage 2 and third in Stage 3. He came into the final stage with a 15-second lead on general classification.

The 70-mile stage involved four laps of a 15.5 mile-circuit through the Adelaide Hills before finishing just beyond the summit of Mount Lofty.

Yates led the crucial attack on the ascent less than 1.2 miles from the finish, but Vine jumped onto his wheel and Australian Ben O’Connor also joined in.

O’Connor led out close to the finish line, Vine briefly passed him but Yates came over the top to claim the stage win. Vine retained his overall advantage and claimed the title in his debut appearance in the Tour Down Under.

The 27-year-old made his name in e-Sports before being signed by the UAE team after winning the academy program on the Zwift online platform. He won two stages of the Vuelta a Espana last year and the Australian Time Trial title.

“It’s pretty incredible to be standing here and wearing this jersey,” Vine said. “The way we drove that was first class. My guys were incredible.”

The final stage featured a breakaway of 13 riders but Vine’s UAE teammates led the chase by the peloton and put their rider in a position to contest the win.

Yates again rode an aggressive race but had to be happy with the stage win.

“We came Down Under with a lot of ambition. We put a lot into it and we didn’t come away with the overall but we can walk away pretty happy,” Yates said. “Obviously Jay Vine is a massive talent and the crowd will be happy with a local winner.”

France’s Coquard wins Tour Down Under Stage 4; Vine leads

5 Comments

ADELAIDE, Australia — French cyclist Bryan Coquard won Stage 4 of the Tour Down Under for his first-ever World Tour win, while Australia’s Jay Vine retained the overall tour lead by 15 seconds with one stage remaining.

Coquard is a lightweight sprinter who has had 49 wins in a decade-long career but had never won on the World Tour until he cleared out near the finish to claim the 82-mile stage by a margin of about just over 100 feet.

Vine was among the leading group that shared Coquard’s winning time and who retained his lead on general classification over Britain’s Simon Yates and Germany’s Phil Bauhaus. The race concludes with Stage 5, which ends atop 2,329-foot Mount Lofty.

“It’s a long time that I’ve waited for this win, 10 years,” said Coquard, who rides for the French Cofidis team. “I never really expected and I’m very happy and relieved with this win.”

While the stage was flat and suited sprinters, it had its challenges. Cross-winds and occasional gradients made the stage difficult and confounded some riders.

After an early breakaway by Jonas Rutsch and former tour winner Daryl Impey of South Africa, the peloton broke into two groups with Vine and other tour leaders among the leading group.

The leading group stayed together around the last, sharp bend towards the finish and Coquard bided his time until his late sprint left other riders flat-footed.

“It was pretty stressful,” Vine said. “There was one point there, I thought we were going to have an easy day and I was happy, smiling, waving to families on the side of the road.

“Then, 45 kilometers in it was on and it was on until the end so it was a very hard day. There was a lot more calorie expenditure than I was planning.”