Ewan holds off Sagan to take Down Under Classic

Large crash in final lap takes down key sprint contender Viviani.

Caleb Ewan took his first major victory in a Lotto-Soudal jersey at the Down Under Classic in Adelaide, Sunday. The Australian beat Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Alexander Edmondson (Mitchelton-Scott) after a crash-marred final lap.

“It is not an official UCI victory yet but it still is a great feeling to win here, the first time we are racing and preparing the sprint as a complete team,” said Ewan. “It gives a lot of confidence to conclude this first experience with a win. It is a pity for the guys who crashed because I would’ve loved to sprint head-to-head against them.”

The one hour and one lap criterium was controlled by Lotto-Soudal, Bahrain-Merida, and Bora-Hansgrohe, who were working to set up their sprinters, though a break consisting of William Clarke (Trek-Segafredo), Lachlan Morton (EF Education First), Ben O’Connor (Dimension Data), and Neil van der Ploeg (Australia) did go clear in the initial stages. Once the quartet was reeled in, the action stayed together.

The crash that took Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) and a number of others out of the race occurred with only 500 meters remaining. Daniel Oss (Bora-Hansgrohe) looked to capitalize on the chaos by briefly going clear however he was soon sucked in as Lotto-Soudal took control.

Roger Kluge brought his teammate Ewan into contention perfectly, keeping him clear of the elbows further back in the field. He delivered Ewan to within striking distance before leaving the race winner to hold off a late charge from Sagan.

“I knew that it was going to be a hard one to win because of the caliber of sprinter here,” said Ewan. “I went into it confident and I knew that my form was good but you never know how it’s going to go. It was a very aggressive race and that made it a little bit harder.”

“I’m happy with my result today,” said second-place Sagan. “Overall, I’m satisfied with the start of the Tour Down Under and the season.”