Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) came away with the win at the 2019 Down Under Classic ahead of Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) and Alexander Edmondson (Mitchelton-Scott). Ewan came through a difficult final lap after a crash took down several rivals, including Italian national champion Elia Viviani.
Ewan made it through the final set of corners and was perfectly brought to the line by his teammate Roger Kluge. There was a late charge from last year’s winner Peter Sagan but the three-time world champion had no answer when Ewan opened up his sprint with the Australian winning by over a bike length. Edmondson was the best of the rest and rounded out the podium.
The win marked Ewan’s first major win of the season and his first against a world class field since his move from Mitchelton-Scott to Lotto-Soudal during the winter. The Australian, who has won the Down Under Classic twice his career, was well placed in the closing laps and was one of the first riders to come through the final set of corners, where the crash occurred. Daniel Oss held a brief gap in the final few hundred meters but he was unable to hold his advantage as Kluge – who moved with Ewan from Mitchelton-Scott to Lotto-Soudal with Ewan – brought his leader back into contention.
The early laps saw a number of attacks from within the field with Mat Hayman – riding his final race before retiring at the end of the Tour Down Under – particularly active in closing down moves. Lotto-Soudal’s Thomas de Gendt was also present at the front, while Dimenson Data’s Ben O’Connor was part of the first attack of the one-hour race. With the sprinters’ teams unwilling to see a break gain more than thirty seconds the pace was frantic throughout.
FDJ, the new CCC team and EF Education all tried to create breaks but with Lotto-Soudal, Bahrain Merida, Bora and the rest of the sprinters’ teams setting the pace the race quickly became a predicable battle between the fast men.
The crash in the final kilometre certainly played a huge role in the finish. By the time the remnants of the main field came through the last set of corners only a handful of riders remained in contention.