Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) took the victory in the Down Under Classic, a one-hour criterium held in the streets of Adelaide which traditionally precedes the Tour Down Under.
In a finale marred by various crashes, Roger Kluge managed to keep Ewan at the front and delivered an impressive lead-out. At 200 metres from the line, Ewan launched a powerful sprint and held off Peter Sagan and Alexander Edmondson. After earlier victories in both 2016 and 2017, it’s now the third Down Under Classic victory for the pocket-rocket sprinter.
In the first part of the race, it was Thomas De Gendt who kept the early breakaway under control. Some other breakaway attempts followed, but due to the furious pace in the peloton it was nearly impossible to stay away.
The sprinters’ teams took over command during the finale, aiming for a sprint finish in the streets of Adelaide. That sprint was disrupted by a big crash at the start of the final lap. Kluge managed to keep Caleb Ewan out of the danger zone and delivered a perfect lead-out before the Australian sprinted to victory.
Caleb Ewan: “During the first part of the race I tried to hide safely in the bunch. The last twenty minutes of the race, we moved to the front of the peloton. Hagen and De Gendt did a great job in controlling the early break and the other four Lotto Soudal riders kept me well-positioned at the front of the pack. We were lucky to avoid the big crash which happened just behind my back, so I didn’t see it myself. In the very end of the race, Roger Kluge had to close a little gap before I could launch my sprint. I felt that Sagan was on my wheel but I was confident that I could hold him off.”
“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. 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. But for sure that will happen during the Tour Down Under. For now, I’m very satisfied but let’s keep calm. Tuesday, we have to be focused to again make it a sprint finish, hopefully with the same result as today.”
— Santos Tour Down Under 🚴🚴♀️ (@tourdownunder) January 13, 2019