Australian rider Caleb Ewan of team Orica-Scott waves to the crowd after winning stage one of the Tour Down Under.
Australian rider Caleb Ewan of team Orica-Scott waves to the crowd after winning stage one of the Tour Down Under. DAN PELED

Aussie sprinter claims opening tour honours

ORICA-Scott's Aussie sprint-master Caleb Ewan has backed up his People's Choice Classic victory with a mighty win in a shortened stage one of the Tour Down Under.

Ewan took the stage in a bunch sprint from Team Sky's Danny Van Poppel and Bora-Hansgrohe's Sam Bennett.

The race was shortened by officials, in consultation with the riders, due to extreme heat.

Riders completed two laps of the finishing Barossa Valley circuit instead of three, making the stage 118km instead of the projected 145km.

Ewan's win came after a brave early breakaway from Astana's Laurens De Vreese held on until the final 19km of the race.

De Vreese did pocket the points for both the King of the Mountain stage and the first intermediate sprint, as well as the most competitive rider award for the stage.

Aussie Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hasgrohe) took the second intermediate sprint from Katusha's Jose Goncalves and Orica-Scott's Simon Gerrans.

The reigning TDU champ, Gerrans had gathered valuable points in the first sprint, too, coming third behind De Vrees and Team Dimension Data's Aussie rider Nathan Haas.

Second in the King of the Mountain climb up Kersbrook Rd, Humbug Scrub, was Sander Armee (Lotto-Soudal) and Jan Bakelants (Ag2R La Mondiale).

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