22-year-old Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan took the win for ORICA-BikeExchange in a wet and crash-heavy Cyclassics Hamburg in Germany today.
The day’s breakaway came close to causing an upset before being caught inside the final kilometre. Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) initially won the race before being disqualified for deviating from his line.
Three crashes in the last 40kilometres split the field with Ewan getting tangled and needing a bike change.
ORICA-BikeExchange executed the change and the chase to perfection with Ewan taking his first European race victory of 2016 after a hard fought sprint.
“I’m really happy with the victory,” said Ewan. “It was a very fast and tough sprint, I had to deviate from my line a bit and it’s always difficult to try and regain momentum after that.”
“It’s great to get a European win under my belt for this season. It was an eventful day all round after suffering a puncture and then crashing twice although fortunately I landed on my feet both times.
“The whole team did a fantastic job in getting me back into the bunch after the crashes and they really were superb today.”
Sport director Matt White was pleased with the result, the team’s first victory at the race, and praised the work of the team and Ewan in a hard race.
“It was a very tough race,” said White. “The conditions were very difficult and we had half of the team go down in the crash with 15kilometres to go before Luke Durbridge and Michael Albasini did some incredible work to bring us back.”
“The finale was also chaotic and Luka Mezgec and Daryl Impey fought hard to drop Caleb (Ewan) off in great position to contest the sprint.
“Caleb is a deserved winner today, he did fantastically well to avoid the crash with 300metres to go and finished off the good work of the team brilliantly.
“Of course we are happy with the result, it’s the first win in Europe for Caleb this year after he started the season strongly in Australia. He was up against a top class field today and this win provides more valuable experience for him going into future races.”
How it happened:
A wet and miserable morning welcomed the riders to the start line with a six-rider breakaway forming within the first hour of racing and quickly establishing a lead of around three minutes.
After 80kilometres of racing their lead had swelled to over six minutes with the escapees beginning to work well together.
The situation remained the same for the next 50kilometres with Lotto-Soudal controlling the front of the peloton.
Approaching the final 45kilometres of the race the lead of the escapees had fallen to under three minutes with the peloton seemingly well in control of the situation.
With 25kilometres to go, and the leaders at two minutes, attacks started to spring from the peloton with three chasers now in between the two groups.
A crash split the field inside the last 15kilometres with the breakaway on the final ascent of the Waseberg around one minute ahead of the reduced bunch and Ewan needing a rapid bike change.
The attacks continued to fly into the finale with now only four leaders out front at 40seconds going into the last five kilometres and Dimension-Data leading the chase.
The leaders were finally caught with one kilometre to go and Katusha and Trek-Segafredo jumping to the front before another crash with 300metres to go added to the chaotic end to the race.
Bouhanni won the ensuing sprint with Ewan avoiding the second crash and forced around the outside to take second place, however the judges deemed Bouhanni’s sprint illegal and Ewan claimed the victory.
Cyclassics Hamburg results:
1. Caleb Ewan (ORICA-BikeExchange) 04:54:27
2. John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) ST
3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) ST