Caleb Ewan sprints to stage 2 victory in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour

by Matt de Neef

Caleb Ewan has taken his first UCI-classified victory in Orica-GreenEdge colours, sprinting to victory on stage 2 of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in Nagambie this afternoon.

Ewan finished a bike length clear of second-placed Steele von Hoff (KordaMentha-Australia) while Budget Forklifts’ Sam Witmitz was third in the bunch kick. Drapac’s Brenton Jones, who finished third in Wednesday night’s prologue time trial in Melbourne, crashed spectacularly in the final metres and slid over the line for sixth place.

The 117.9km stage began in Bendigo and despite many breakaway attempts in the first hour of racing, it took more than 40km for three riders to get clear. Prologue time trial winner Will Clarke (Drapac) was joined by Tyler Farrar (MTN-Qhubeka) and Michael Cuming (JLT-Condor) and the trio built a lead that grew to nearly three minutes.

But with the fastmen keen for a bunch sprint, the three leaders were reeled back in with Cuming the first to fall having dropped off the pace with roughly 25km to race.

Coming into the final hairpin bend with 300m to go, Caleb Ewan was in a perfect position behind teammate Michael Hepburn while UnitedHealthcare’s John Murphy led the bunch into the final straight. Murphy tired, however, leaving Ewan to pounce for Orica-GreenEdge’s second stage win in as many days.

“A win is a win and they all feel good but it’s good to get a UCI win,” Ewan said of his first UCI-classified win in Orica-GreenEdge colours. “I am aiming for five or six wins in UCI races this year so it’s good to get one on the board.”

“After you win one stage your confidence lifts a fair bit and I know I can beat all of the guys here in the sprint now so going into the next stage I will be a lot more confident.”

Overnight leader Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge) finished safely in the bunch and maintains his overall lead in the race. He remains four seconds clear of second-placed Joe Cooper (Avanti) and 15 seconds ahead of Cooper’s teammate Patrick Bevin.

Tomorrow’s penultimate stage of the 2015 Jayco Herald Sun Tour takes the riders 148.6km from the Mitchelton Winery back into Nagambie. The stage features a 7.2km climb a little over halfway through, but the finish is more or less flat and should suit a sprint kick.

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