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Tour Down Under Schwalbe Classic Criterium - Live Coverage

Hello and welcome to our first live coverage of the 2020 season. We have blow by blow coverage of the Schwalbe Classic Criterium - the warm-up event for the men's Tour Down Under which begins on Tuesday. 

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The men's criterium will begin at 18:45 local time in Adelaide and we will bring you all the  build-up to the high-speed 51km criterium. 

It is currently 3:40pm in Adelaide and so the race start is about three hours away. We were caught in the rain earlier as we headed to downtown Adelaide but the sun is coming out and has already dried the road.

Our specialist tech reporters Josh Croxton and Colin Levitch have been scouring the team tent for the last few days to capture all the new bike tech from 2020.

They've reported details on a number of the 2020 WorldTour bikes and other equipment. 

Click here to see our special tech page.  

Check out our Tour Down Under 2020 mega race tech gallery 

The 2020 Tour Down Under

This is the 1.7km criterium circuit the riders will cover 30 times (Image credit: Tour Down Under)

The final stage of the Women's Tour Down Under will be held on the same circuit and will end an hour before the men's race. 

As always, we'll have a full report, results and a photo gallery of  all the action as the USA's Ruth Winder (Trek-Segafredo) tries to hold not the race lead she took on stage 3.

Former Mitchelton-Scott rider, Paris-Roubaix winner and true Aussie Mat Hayman gave Cyclingnews his unique insight into the Tour Down Under racing. 

This his opinion on the criterium. 

This is more than just a criterium because it's the first real roll-out for a lot of riders on new teams. For many of the Australians, they've already raced at the national championships, but for the rest of the peloton, a lot of riders will have arrived with new squads and new equipment. For everyone involved it's always good to have this little hit-out before the Tour Down Under starts a couple of days later.

This year it's a slightly different circuit with an extra corner thrown in, but it's just such a fast route that the break, which invariably forms, has very little chance of staying away. I tried last year as I was about to retire, but it didn't really happen because it's just so fast along those wide streets.

I was involved with a few wins there, with Team Sky and Mitchelton, and it's a great feeling to win and start the week with that momentum, so teams with sprinters will be treating this as a really competitive outing.

A new season means new sprint rivalries, and the Tour Down Under will see the first sprint-off between Elia Viviani and Sam Bennett – the past and present lead sprinter for Deceuninck-QuickStep.

Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal), André Greipel (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates) will be major threats in the expected four sprint finishes at this year's Tour Down Under, but the battle between Viviani and Bennett tops the bills and sparks the most intrigue and questions.

Can Bennett successfully fill Viviani's shoes at Deceuninck-QuickStep? 

Will Cofidis be able to produce a fast and smooth lead-out train for Viviani to strut his stuff? 

Or will other sprinters, including young guns such as the much-admired Italian neo-pro Alberto Dainese (Team Sunweb), Britain's Gabriel Cullaigh (Movistar), Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT Pro Cycling) and Kristoffer Halvorsen (EF Pro Cycling) steal their thunder?

Click here to read what Viviani and Bennet had to say before today's expected first sprint of  2020.

The women's race starts in 15 minutes.

Women's Tour Down Under

The women are on the start line (Image credit: Colin Levitch)

Amanda Spratt

Amanda Spratt stayed in the peloton on the early laps (Image credit: Colin Levitch)

By taking the first intermediate sprint, Lippert cuts Winder's lead to just 4 seconds. Race on!  

The second sprint of the women's race was equally intense. Amanda Spratt took second, beating race leader Ruth Winder. Lippert did not pick up any bonus seconds and so is now at 5 seconds. Spartt is now only 6 seconds behind with all to play for, in the final sprint finish.  

The break at the Women's Tour Down Under

The break at the Women's Tour Down Under (Image credit: Colin Levitch )

Here we go. One lap to race in the women's race. Who will secure overall success? Winder, Lippert or Spratt. 

We will let you know.

 Frapporti wins the stage. Winder takes overall victory!

"That race was pretty crazy. I still need time to understand I've won. Mitchelton-Scott and Sunweb are strong so we're happy to pull it of and celebrate," Winder said before climbing on the podium to be crowned overall victory.

In the provisional results, Lippert finished 5 second down on Winder, with Spratt at 6 seconds.

Next up is the men's criterium that  begins in 45 minutes. We'll have full live coverage here on Cyclingnews. 

The men's Tour Down Under is about to start

The men's Tour Down Under is about to start (Image credit: Colin Levitch)

We're 30 minutes from the start of the men's race and some rain drops are starting to fall. 

Andre Greipel

Andre Greipel seems pensive before the start (Image credit: Colin Levitch)

This is the final GC of the Tour Down Under.

World Champion Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) is one of the many big-names riders starting their season at the Tour Down Under.

Mads Pedersen at the Tour Down Under

(Image credit: Colin Levitch)

Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) signs on. Can he win the Tour Down Under again in 2020? We'll find out in a week. 

Richie Porte

(Image credit: Colin Levitch)

Five minutes from the start, the rain is falling again. It will be interesting to see if some riders opt not to race or take things easy. 

At this race last year, EF Pro Cycling's Lachlan Morton was part of the breakaway, but the team has different priorities this year.

"We've got some fast guys here this year," he told Cyclingnews before the start. 

"Unless something miraculous happens, I don't think I’ll be up the road today, but it is a bike race, so you never know.

"Kristoff Halvorsen is our main guy, but we've got five fast guys who all have a job to do at the finish. I'm not one of them," Morton laughed, "but I hope to play a small part in getting them to where they need to be."

The riders are lining up for the start.

(Image credit: Colin Levitch)

They're off!

The umbrellas are out as the rain falls. 

The riders are taking the opening lap carefully as they study the circuit and the best lines on wet roads. 

Forecasts are predicting even more rain during the 51km race.

As they start lap 2, we have some attacks off the front.  

Surprisingly Caleb Ewan is sat near the back of the peloton.

Looking for an outsider for today's sprint and all week? We think it will be Australian criterium champion Sam Welsford. 

Sam Welsford

Sam Welsford  (Image credit: Colin Levitch)

There are half a dozen riders in the break but the peloton is keeping them under control and can see them.

The six leaders have a eight-second gap but Lotto Soudal is leading the chase. Their man Caleb Ewan is at at the back. 

Manuele Boaro (Astana) kicks clear to win the second intermediate sprint. 

Boaro's surge has pushed the peloton back to 25 seconds. 

The other riders join Boaro and the peloton is at 20 seconds.

Caleb Ewan's lead out man Roger Kluge has dropped back to see him and check he's okay. Will Ewan soon move up to contest the sprint or give it a miss?

It looks like the heavy rain is coming up from the south.

As the riders reach half way, the Cofidis team of Viviani send up two riders to help with the chase.

Nick White of UniSA Australia wins the latest intermediate sprint, beating Keil Reijnen (Trek-Segafredo).

Josef Cerny (CCC Team) is off the front solo. 

The speed is up in the peloton and Ewan has wisely moved up to prepare for the stage finish.

Mikkel Bjerg is the first rider out. He seems to have flatted and took a bike change. to reach the finish.

With 20 of the 30 laps covered, the gap is at 28 seconds but is falling.  

Cerny is a TT specialist is tucked low and driving out front. Can he hold off the chasers and the peloton? He has 28 seconds with eight laps to go.

The speed is up now as Team Ineos hit the front and accelerate.

Team Ineos are riding for Chris Lawless today. 

Up front, Cerny has been caught. The break seems to be running out of steam as the sprint teams move to the front and chase hard.

The gap is down to 7 seconds but the rain is falling again.

The peloton can see the break and is about to eat them up. 

Five laps to go and its gruppo compatto! The sprint is on!

But Boaro refuses to give up and attacks alone. He's hoping the sprinters will sit up in the rain.

The peloton is lined out with some riders gapped and off the back.

The 1.7km circuit includes just six fast left turns but riders are nervous about the wet roads. 

Four laps to go and so position is vital now.

Ineos continue to lead the peloton.  Ewan is up close too with his lead out man Roger Kluge. 

Crash!

Max Kanter of Sunweb goes down. A few others too. The crash has split the peloton and raised the tension.

EF are working for Halvorsen.  

Two laps to go!

Deceuninck are gathering up front for Bennett. 

Bora are also working on the front for Maertin Laas.

Consonni is leading Viviani.

Only 30 riders are left up front. Others, including the TDU GC contenders, have eased up. This crit is for their sprinters and their lead out men.

Ding, ding, ding. The bell rings for the last lap.

1.7km and six corners to go! 

Cofidis and EF lead it out.

3 EF riders riding for Halvorsen. 

Ewan and Viviani are there too.

Here we go!

Ewan! 

Ewan went early and went alone on the left but got a gap on his rivals and they could not close him down.

Ewan has won the criterium four times in the last five years.  Impressive.

Viviani came off the wheels to try and close the gap but failed to close him down. 

Consonni lead Viviani and held on for third place. 

Jasper Philipsen of UAE was fourth and Halvorsen fifth. 

Check out our first report and growing photo gallery.

Here's Caleb Ewan talking about his first win of 2020.

This is how Ewan did it. 

Nice work if you can get  it. Manuele Boaro earned 500 dollars for going on the attacking the break and taking an intermediate sprint.

Caleb Ewan had some worried that he was not going to contest the sprint but he moved up in the final laps and produced yet another winning surge.

"The last six or seven laps, it started to rain a little bit and that made us a little nervous in the bunch," he admitted. 

"We were in a great position and my team did a great job today to help me stay up the front because there was a lot of fighting for position. Roger left that gap for me in the final straight, and that gave me a really good launching pad."

Ewan added. 

"I started this season with a bit of pressure to try and replicate what I did last year and try to grow my wins on top of that. 

"This is my first race of the season, usually I've done some races before. But I felt really good out there, it was pretty relaxed for the first half, sitting at the back. Then when I needed to go, I got up into position."

Ewan only arrived in Adelaide on Thursday, bring his young family from Sydney after visiting  family. It was only the second time his young  daughter had been to a race but he won yet again. 

"The two days my daughter's been at a race was the second stage I won at the Tour de France and today, so maybe she's my good luck charm," he said happily. 

Thanks for joining us for our live coverage. We will back on Tuesday for full liver coverage of the opening stage of the Tour Down Under after today's criterium aperitif. 

Tuesday's stage covers five laps of a 30km circuit for a total of 150km.

To read out full report from the Women's Tour Down Under, click here 

Ruth Winder celebrates winning the 2020 Women's Tour Down Under

(Image credit: Getty Images)

To read out full report and see the photo gallery and full results from the men's race,  click here. 

Tour Down Under Schwalbe Classic Criterium

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

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