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Tour Down Under 2019: Down Under Classic

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Hello and welcome to our first live coverage of 2019, the Down Under Classic. This is the curtain raiser ahead of the WorldTour Tour Down Under and we've 50km criterium ahead of us today.

The start is about 25 minutes away, and we've a stellar line up here in Adelaide with Peter Sagan, Elia Viviani, and Caleb Ewan among the favourites for today's race.

 

You can find our complete start list, right here.

 

Earlier in the day Amanda Spratt won the GC in the women's race. This was her third GC win in the last three years. Chloe Hosking won the final stage in Adelaide. You can find our report, and results, right here.

The sun is out, it's another hot one and riders are currently warming up on the circuit ahead of the race. Last night we had the teams' presentation and you can catch up with this fine gallery, right here.

Just over ten minutes until the start of the race. Last year we saw an early break or two form before everything came back together and Peter Sagan won. This year the Bora rider is back and he's riding something different from Specialized. Here's our gallery and write-up, just here.

 

The big favourite today is perhaps Caleb Ewan. He's moved teams over the winter and now lines up for Lotto Soudal. He has won this even twice during his short career and he'll want to kick start his career on the Belgian team and prove a point to Mitchelton Scott after leaving them in the winter. Here's the Australian's team for today's race.

 

31 Caleb Ewan (Aus)
32 Adam Blythe (GBr)
33 Tomasz Marczynski (Pol)
34 Carl Fredrik Hagen (Nor)
35 Adam Hansen (Aus)
36 Roger Kluge (Ger)
37 Thomas De Gendt (Bel)

 

The peloton have gathered on the start line and last year's Tour Down Under winner Daryl Impey is at the front of the race. We're just moment away from the start of the race.

 

Richie Porte, a GC favourite for the Tour Down Under, and the 2017 winner is also at the front of the bunch and we're off and racing at the Down Under Classic. Here we go.

 

Attacks already, right from the gun and the bunch stretch out along the course. We'll race for an hour and that's Mat Hayman who has gone off the front but he's joined by around 10 riders. 

 

Another batch of riders have gone clear so the leaders swell to around 15 riders on lap one but the gap is under 10 seconds.

 

And at the front of the bunch it's Thomas De Gendt, who is looking to bring it all back together for Caleb Ewan. The leaders have about five seconds at the moment. 

 

The front of the race has split again and we've got four riders, including Will Clarke, off the front at the moment as Bora lead the chase from the main field.

 

Five riders now leading and Ben O'Connor makes it a five man group. The gap, however, is still just a handful of seconds. 

 

Lap 4 and the gap has gone out to 23 seconds. Danny Van Poppel and Scully are also in the lead group. The gap is being managed by De Gendt and it's currently 27 seconds. 

Neil van der Ploeg was in the break but he's clipped off the front to win the first bonus of the race. He's actually kicked on and his stretching his lead over the rest of the break.

 

Lotto Soudal still head the chase. Here's what Ewan said yesterday:



"Obviously, we are going for a few stage wins, but at least one would be good. It won't be a great result if I haven't won a stage by the end of the race. There are definitely three stages suited for a sprint finish – maybe four. The other three stages will probably be too hard for the sprinters, but that obviously depends on how the race unfolds. The main guys I'll be looking out for are Peter Sagan [Bora-Hansgrohe] and Elia Viviani [Deceuninck-QuickStep], who are both quick and strong riders. Moreover, there is a really strong sprint field here so there may be some other riders to keep an eye on as well."

 

Onto lap seven and we've now four leaders of the race but the gap is down to 20 seconds. 

 

The four leaders continue to hold the gap at around 19 seconds but there's no let-up from the bunch with Bora, Soudal and Quick-Step leading the chase. There's also Mat Hayman, who is going to retire after the Tour Down Under, who is currently setting the pace.

 

Another bonus lap and it's Will Clarke who takes it. 

 

The break consists of O'Connor, Clarke, Scully and Neil van der Ploeg. 

 

Don't forget you can find all our Tour Down Under coverage, right here.

 

That be Morton, not Scully in the break. Morton back in EF colours after leaving Slipstream several years ago, is making an impression and he's actually gone solo and leads the race.

 

Morton is actually the only rider clear right now because the rest of the break has been caught by the peloton.

 

Back in the main field and Hayman marks yet another move. 

 

Morton sits up and there's a rapid counter attack from Dimension Data but it's jumped on by several rivals. Bora and Trek are in the mix but once again it's Mitchelton who are shutting it all down.

 

And now a climber goes on the move and it's Pantano from Trek. The move is sadly short-lived and he's brought back before Ag2R get in on the action. The two riders sprint it out for a bonus with the Trek man coming out on top.

 

18 laps covered and the pace remains at around 50kph as Astana try and break up proceedings. No luck though.

 

Two sets of two have attacked and there's a slight lull in the pace from the main field. If the two attacking moves can merge then they at least have a chance of putting the bunch under a bit of pressure.

 

Steve Morabito, who crashed out of the TDU last year, is in the attack as the two lead groups merge. 

 

Bahrain Merida have come to the front for the first time and they're working for their sprinter Phil Bauhaus who moved from Sunweb during the winter. Boaro just took the latest sprint. 

 

The Morabito trio look back and can see the bunch closing in but they've not sitting up just yet. We've been racing for just over 50 minutes.

Our current leaders are Morabito (GFC),  Rosskopf (CPT) and Harper (AUS) after 24 laps of racing. 

 

All back together on lap 25.

 

Duck and dive 25. Bahrain Merida hustle and hit the front. Bauhaus is going to give this a real go in the finish.

 

There's Viviani in the middle of the field. His team have not had to do too much work yet today but they're starting to organise their leadout train.

 

It's getting choppy out there as Team Sky move up, and Lotto too. Lap 27. 

 

There's a crash. 

 

An EF rider is on the deck.

 

That has caused a split as Trek set the pace on lap 28. Sagan has moved up, Viviani is there too. 

 

Just over one lap to go.

 

Ewan is moving up as well with Kluge and Sagan as Impey takes a huge turn as we start the last lap.

 

Van Poppel is there too.

 

Ewan is really well placed.

 

A huge crash. Viviani is down.

 

Only a few riders are left and Oss is clear.

 

Ewan and Sagan in contention.

 

Ewan leads out.

 

Ewan takes it from Sagan. 

 

That huge crash in the finale took out so many riders.

 

Kluge perfectly looked after Ewan and it was a clear win for the Australian. 

 

You can find our brief report, and results, right here.

Lets hear from today's winner, Caleb Ewan:

 

I knew that it was going to be a hard one to win because of the caliber of sprinter here. 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.
 

My team did a fantastic job. On a course like this with four corner on each lap it's hard to stay together but they stayed composed and I stayed with Roger and he delivered me perfectly.

I'm happy with my form and I couldn't ask for a better start. This is the first time I've raced with a full team like this. To start with the win is a good feeling.


This was probably the most important one today. To get the confidence of the team up. They did a perfect job and this was the first time we've done the leadout. It's such a good feeling.
 

 

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