Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) took his second victory of Santos Tour Down Under, winning stage 4, Friday. The Australian came off rival sprinter Sam Bennett‘s (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) wheel in the final 50 meters to win by a bike length. Bennett hung on for second, and Jasper Philipsen (UAE-Team Emirates) took third.
Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) cut three seconds out of Richie Porte‘s (Trek-Segafredo) GC lead by claiming intermediate sprint bonuses, leaving the South African defending champion just three seconds back on the overall. Rob Power (Sunweb) was also able to claw back time on Porte, picking up one bonus second to leave him eight seconds back, third on GC.
Ewan’s victory came after a tricky run-in to the finish in Murray Bridge, with a significant pinchpoint a few kilometers out and tight right-hander in the final 250 meters.
Bennett’s Quick-Step leadout brought their sprinter into perfect position in the final straight. However, Ewan had been maneuvered into the draft of the tall Irishman to leave him ready to strike. As Bennett’s final leadout man pulled off and the Irishman opened his sprint, Ewan accelerated past, overhauling the Quick-Step rider in the final meters to win by a bike length.
“I just told my last man Roger to put me on the wheel of Sam Bennett and that’s what he did,” said Ewan. “That was exactly where I wanted to be in that last corner.”
With the GC battle likely to be decided on Sunday’s summit finish on Willunga Hill, Porte’s rivals knew they needed to gain any time they could on Friday’s stage.
Mitchelton-Scott controlled much of the early part of the race as they looked to keep Impey in position for the intermediate sprints, and the tactic left Impey picking up third and second in the contests to gain valuable time on Porte. Sunweb followed a similar tactic of chipping away at Porte’s lead, positioning Power, third on GC, to take third on one of the intermediate sprints.
“We got three seconds today. Three seconds are better than none,” said Impey.
“We will go for everything we can. We know it’s going to be hard to beat Richie on Sunday [on Willunga],” Impey said. “We will need a buffer to try to win the race overall, so any chance we can get, we are going to go for it, and we did that today. We will keep going for it, our tactics don’t change.”
Saturday’s stage is another finish set for the sprinters, and so Porte, Impey and Power’s scrap for bonus seconds will continue tomorrow.
Stage 4 result:
- Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal): 3:29:08
- Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step): S.T.
- Jasper Philipsen (UAE-Team Emirates): S.T.
GC after stage 4:
- Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo): 13:39:32
- Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott): +0:00:03
- Rob Power (Sunweb): +0:00:08