The Associated Press ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — Australia’s Richie Porte won the Tour Down Under cycle race for the first time Sunday but compatriot Caleb Ewan shared the limelight with his fourth stage win in the six-stage event.
Ewan, riding for Australia’s ORICA-Scott team, won the first, third, fourth and sixth stages of the 2017 event to become only the third rider after Germany’s Andre Greipel and Australian Robbie McEwan to win four stages in a single tour.
With Porte winning the second and fifth stages, Australians achieved a clean sweep of the Tour’s stages for only the third time in its history, repeating the achievement of last year and 2002.
Porte held a 48 second lead on general classification entering Sunday’s final stage which featured 20 laps of a 4.5 kilometer street circuit in downtown Adelaide. His lead was all but unassailable and he was able to comfortably defend it, riding near the front of the bunch for most of the race with his teammates from the United States-based BMC Racing Team.
Porte’s final 48 second margin was the second largest in the 17-year history of the event which is now the opening event of the UCI WorldTour. Only Australia’s Pat Jonker, who won the 2004 race by one minute, 13 seconds has achieved a more emphatic victory.
“The Tour Down Under was good for me this year with two hilltop finishers and it’s just incredible to come back here and win after being so close in the last two years,” Porte said. “BMC sent a team down which was so strong and I really owe it to my teammates.
“Each day they got me across the line and it’s a massive credit to them.”
The 22-year-old Ewan dominated the sprint stages throughout the tour and further enhanced his growing reputation by beating two-time world champion Peter Sagan into second place at the end of Sunday’s 90 kilometer stage.
“I can’t really believe it,” he said. “Coming into this tour I actually joked with my girlfriend that I’d win four stages and I can’t really believe that I have with the caliber of sprinters here.
“It was always going to be hard beating Peter Sagan. Even if he’s not in his best form, he’s still the best rider in the world at the moment. So I’m just so happy with the performance I’ve had.”
Porte said he hoped to see Ewan given the chance to ride the Tour de France this year.
“I tip my hat to Caleb Ewan, he’s a massive, massive talent,” Porte said. “Australia needs to get behind him, he’s the next Robbie McEwen.
“He’s amazing. I’d love to see him at the Tour [de France] this year. He’ll win three or four stages this year if he’s there.”
Esteban Chaves of Colombia finished in second place on general classification, 48 seconds behind Porte, while Australia’s Jay McCarthy leap-frogged compatriot Nathan Haas into third place on the podium.
Jhonatan Restrepo of Colombia won the second intermediate sprint on Sunday to move into the top 10 on general classification while winning the young rider classification.