Caleb Ewan has taken another victory on Stage 4 of the Tour Down Under and we're starting to run out of superlatives. This guy is unstoppable.
Words - James Raison Photo credit: Santos Tour Down Under / Regallo
Caleb Ewan (ORICA SCOTT) has again vanquished his rivals in an uphill sprint finish in Campbelltown. He's right to thank his team, Daryl Impey was phenomenal in moving him through the bunch and delivering him to the sprint.
The Norwood Parade hosted the start of the Bupa Stage 4 and sent the riders on a 150 km jaunt around the undulating North-Eastern Adelaide hills. Running into the stage finish is the barn-storming descent down Gorge Road before turning off for an uphill sprint to the line.
The first KOM point was on the nasty wall of Checker Hill with 15% average for 600 metres. A breakaway had formed early in the race with Ondrej Cink (Bahrain Merida), Jack Bauer (Quick-Step Floors), and former winner Cameron Meyer (UniSA-Australia) stretching their legs. It was Cink who attacked and took the KOM point points ahead of his breakaway companions showing no interest in chasing the powerful Czech.
BMC set the tempo in protection of Richie Porte’s race lead as the breakaway rolled through the first sprint point with Bauer taking it over Meyer and Cink. The Swiss squad refused to let the leaders get beyond 1:30 as Andrej Cink was only 57 seconds behind Porte going into the stage.
Another uncontested sprint point soon followed, taken by Meyer over Bauer and Cink.
The status quo remained for the next hour of racing with BMC never budging. Ondrej Cink had enough of dangling at the head of the race and sat up to return to the peloton A counter-attack sprung from the peloton consisting of strongmen Lars Bak (Lotto Soudal), WIll Clarke (Cannondale Drapac), and Michael Valgren (Astana). The Danish/Australian trio had plenty of firepower and relentlessly pursued the two remaining leaders. Will Clarke’s breakaway aspirations evaporated as a punctre and neutral service wheel change saw him return to the bunch.
Bak and Clarke get stuck 25 seconds from the leaders and a minute ahead of the peloton. The two men conversed briefly before dropping back to the bunch with their crossing attempt over.
Bora-hansgrohe and ORICA-SCOTT pushed to the front and upped the tempo. Both squads were thinking about their sprinter’s aspirations as the breakaway’s advantage began to plummet. Meyer was next to sit up, leaving Bauer to forge on alone. The strong New Zealander showed every intention of staying away and the gap stabilised at 45 seconds.
It was a battle of attrition as riders were spat out the back by the relentless pace. Sprint teams swarmed the front of the race and Bauer came into view with 6 km to go. Bauer’s gallant attack was over at 3 km to go as the fight for position began in earnest. Darryl Impey (ORICA SCOTT) rocketed through the peloton with teammate Caleb Ewan on his wheel.
A Bora-hansgrohe rider tried his luck with an early attack before running out of steam as SKY led out their man Danny Van Poppel. Multiple sprinters were lucky to avoid crashing as one of the SKY men sat up right on the barrier. Ewan kept his cool and jumped onto Van Poppel’s wheel before opening up his sprint. Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) was on the charge but it was too late. Ewan hit the line ahead of the world champ with Van Poppel 3rd, Ben Swift (UAE Abu-Dhabi) 4th and the incredibly consistent Nathan Haas (Dimension Data) 5th.
Top 10 finishers on stage 4:
1. Caleb Ewan - ORICA-SCOTT
2. Peter Sagan - Bora-hansgrohe
3. Danny Van Poppel - Team Sky
4. Ben Swift - UAE Abu Dhabi
5. Nathan Haas - Team Dimension Data
6. Baptiste Planckaert - Katusha-Aplecin
7. Jay McCarthy - Bora-hansgrohe
8. Callum Scotson - UniSA Australia
9. Jasha Sutterlin - Movistar
10. Enrico Battaglin - Lotto NL - Jumbo
Top 10 overall after stage 4:
1. Richie Porte - BMC
2. Gorka Izaguirre - Movistar: +20”
3. Esteban Chavez - ORICA-SCOTT: +22”
4. Jay McCarthy - Bora-Hansgrohe: +24”
5. Nathan Haas - Team Dimension Data: +27”
6. Rohan Dennis - BMC: 29"
7. Luis-Leon Sanchez - Astana Pro Team: ST
8. Diego Ulissi - UAE Abu Dabi: ST
9. Rafael Valls - Lotto Soudal: ST
10. Ruben Guerreiro - Trek Segafredo: ST