There have been two major stars of this year’s Santos Tour Down Under, and both of them took the spotlight in the final stage of the race. Caleb Ewan took his fourth stage win of the race for Orica-SCOTT, while Richie Porte of BMC Racing claimed his maiden overall victory in the World Tour opener.
Closing the final stage of the Santos Tour Down Under once again was the 90km Adelaide circuit race. The circuit was just 4.5km in length, with 20 laps of the circuit to tackle. Going into the stage Richie Porte’s lead was near unassailable but he still had to successfully navigate the final stage which is traditionally fast and furious.
The day began with an attack from Thomas De Gendt of Lotto Soudal. He was joined by Gianluca Brambilla of Quick Step-Floors. De Gendt had motive to get in the break once again, as the battle between him and Richie Porte for the king of the mountains classification continued to rage. Porte officially led overnight, although the pair were equal on points; leaving De Gendt with one last opportunity to claim the jersey outright. He did so successfully, taking enough points on offer at the first KOM point at Monteflore Hill to claim the KOM classification.
Next battle though was for the GC positions behind Richie Porte. Esteban Chaves started the day in second place but only 3 seconds ahead of Nathan Haas of Dimension Data and only 6 seconds ahead of Dimension Data. The intermediate sprints still provided opportunities for a reshuffle and Jay McCarthy took the race to Chaves and Haas.
At the first sprint point on lap 8 Jay McCarthy took the points but he was unable to back that up at the next sprint. It was, however, enough to move him into third position. Meanwhile Jack Bauer of Quick Step-Floors was not quite done with his exploits on the front of the race either. Bauer took maximum points at the second and final KOM of the Santos Tour Down Under to move him up to fourth overall in that classification.
But the race predictably came down to a final sprint finish and once again a battle that saw Orica-SCOTT come to the fore. Team Sky took them on with Danny van Poppel having to focus on fending off the helmet of Caleb Ewan as much as the rest of the opposition. The pair of them jostled for the wheel of Ewan’s lead out man allowing Peter Sagan and his lead out man Jay McCarthy to come through. Ewan grabbed McCarthy’s wheel, while Sagan was content to sit on Ewan just a little longer.
Sagan attempted to get the jump on Ewan but the Aussie was simply too quick. Ewan matched Sagan and powered away for his fourth stage win in six days of racing. Sagan took his third second place of the week, while Marko Kump of UAE Abu Dhabi took third place.
Patrick Bevin arrived home in the main field, while teammate Tom Scully and Jack Bauer crossed the line further back. Overall Richie Porte held on to his 48 second lead over Esteban Chaves, while Jay McCarthy overtook Nathan Haas for third; with Diego Ulissi completing the top five.