ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — Australia's Caleb Ewan was disqualified after winning the dramatic fifth stage of the Tour Down Under cycle race Saturday as overall leader Patrick Bevin staggered to the finish bloodied and bruised to retain his overall tour lead.
Ewan crossed the finish line first but was disqualified after he was seen to lunge with his head at second-placed Jasper Philipsen who was awarded the stage victory in his debut race on the World Tour. Triple world champion Peter Sagan was promoted to second and Danny van Poppel of the Netherlands to third.
New Zealand's Bevin crashed 10 kilometers from the finish, scarring his knee and elbow and shredding the tour leader's ocher jersey. But he started the stage with a seven second lead and ended it with the same margin ahead of Sunday's final stage.
It wasn't immediately clear Saturday whether Bevin, from the Poland-based CCC team, will be fit to contest the final stage and defend his tour lead. He was taken to hospital after the fifth stage for tests.
He fell when there was a moment of congestion among the peloton 10 kilometers from the finish. Bevin was helped to his feet and, at his own request, provided with a new bike to allow him to continue the race. His CCC teammates immediately dropped back to help him regain the peloton and, in keeping with the sporting tradition of cycling, the bunch slowed to allow the race leader to rejoin.
With his team's help, he regained a prominent place near the front of the bunch but with his injuries he wasn't able to participate in the sprint which decided the stage.
Sagan and Spain's Luis Leon Sanchez were prominent with the help of lead-out riders but Australia's Ewan bullocked his way through and hit the line narrowly ahead of Philipsen at the end of the 149.5 kilometer stage from Unley to Strathalbyn.
Bevin retained his 7 second overall lead from reigning champion Daryl Impey of South Africa while Sanchez is third, 16 seconds behind the race leader.
The tour will again be decided on its longest stage which finishes Sunday atop the narrow and winding road to the peak of Old Willunga Hill.
The sprinters, including Bevin, Sanchez, Impey and Ewan, are unlikely to play any part in the finish of the final stage. The outcome of the tour will depend on any of the climbers close to the overall lead can take enough time, including the 10 second bonus for winning the stage, to shake Bevin's grip on general classification.
It now also depends of Bevin's fitness to continue.
Ewan's win on Saturday seemed to make up for a generally disappointing tour but his renewed optimism was later taken away with news of his disqualification. He was thought to be one of the leading candidates to win his home tour for a second time but misfortune has prevented him featuring regularly in the previous stage finishes.
"I positioned myself pretty well," Ewan said, before learning of his disqualification. "I was following Sagan the last maybe 2 kilometers and I was in a good position.
"I wanted to probably be on (Elia) Viviani's wheel in the sprint but I was a bike length back from him and I knew I had to go early and use that little downhill ramp as a launching pad.
"That's what I did. I went a bit earlier and got to the finish first."
Saturday's stage was made tricky by crosswinds or tailwinds which affected most of the course. There was an early breakaway by three riders who accumulated King of the Mountain points.
Impey won the first intermediate sprint from Bevin, taking a three second time bonus to Bevin's two seconds, to cut his lead on the road to 6 seconds overall. Bevin then won the second sprint from Impey to restore his 7 second margin.