Patrick Bevin has been cleared to start the final stage of the Tour Down Under. The race leader crashed heavily on stage 5, and although he eventually finished in the bunch he was taken straight to hospital for X-rays and medical checks.
CCC Team announced on Saturday evening that Bevin would need to go through a series of medical tests Sunday morning ahead of the final stage before any confirmation could be confirmed with regards to a possible start. The team stated that Bevin would go through a test for concussion.
Just before 9am local time the team announced that Bevin had passed the examinations and would start the stage. The New Zealand rider carries a seven-second lead into stage 6, with last year's winner Daryl Impey (Mitchelton Scott) breathing down his neck.
This is Bevin's first WorldTour race in the colours of CCC Team after the Polish company took up the sponsorship from BMC Racing at the start of 2019. Bevin pulled on the leader's jersey at the Tour Down Under after picking up five bonus seconds on stage 1 and then winning the following day.
He defended his lead on the Corkscrew stage and then traded blows with Impey in a battle for the intermediate sprints on stage 5. However, with 10 kilometers to go Bevin was involved in a fall after Deceuninck-QuickStep moved the peloton from one side of the road to the other. The crash wasn't intentional, but the Belgian team's change of position created a ripple effect in the middle of the bunch.
Bevin hit the deck as the peloton were preparing for the sprint finish. When he remounted he was assisted by his teammates. He also took a long tow and received pacing from his team car. He was not sanctioned for the move, and Cyclingnews understands that no team made an official protest. There has been debate over whether the peloton intentionally waited for Bevin, with Michael Woods (EF Education First) taking to Twitter on Saturday evening to praise Mitchelton-Scott for slowing down the field.
At the finish of stage 5, as rumours grew that Bevin could face a penalty for the manner of his chase, Mitchelton-Scott's Impey stressed that he would not be willing to take to the podium and pull on the leader's jersey if Bevin had been handed a time penalty.
The final stage of the Tour Down Under concludes with an ascent of Willunga Hill. With Bevin starting, and despite his bumps and bruises, the consensus seems to be that right decisions were made and that the road will decide this year's winner of the Tour Down Under, and not a race jury.
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