Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) won the bunch sprint to take his maiden Grand Tour win on stage five of the Vuelta a Espana on Wednesday.
The young Australian powered past John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin), who had started the sprint, but could not keep up the pace in the streets of Alcala de Guadairia in Spain.
In hindsight, Degenkolb went too early, allowing Ewan to catch him as he ran out of steam.
“It was super-tough up there. I didn’t realize it was going to be so hard,” said Ewan. “My team put me in perfect position. I knew it was a little bit too early, so I dropped back a few spots to get on Degenkolb’s wheel, and I just waited and waited. And it turned out perfect.”
Meanwhile, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) had no answer to Ewan’s pace and had to settle for third place.
Esteban Chaves (Orica GreenEdge), who held the race leader's jersey by five seconds at the start of the stage over Tom Dumoulon (Team Giant-Alpecin), did not finish in the safety of the peloton and as a result lost the red jersey to the Dutchman.
Nicolas Roche (Team Sky) remains 16 seconds adrift in third overall.
Iljo Keisse (Etixx-Quick-Step), Antoine Duchesne (Europcar) and Tsgabu Grmay (Lampre-Merida) formed the day's breakaway, though Keisse would eventually shed his two fellow escapees with about 18km to go.
He was caught at the 10km mark, however, as the sprinters’ teams lined up for the bunch sprint finish.
Orica-GreenEdge took control going into the final two kilometers and though Tinkoff-Saxo and Giant-Alpecin both briefly threatened to disrupt their lead-out, Ewan was still set up perfectly for the win.
“It’s an incredible feeling,” he added. “This is by far the biggest victory of my career. When I crossed the line, it was just so much emotion. I was so happy.”
Stage five results
1 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
2 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin
3 Peter Sagan (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo
4 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team
5 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar
6 Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN-Qhubeka
7 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita)
8 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha
9 Tosh Van der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
10 Nikolas Maes (Bel) Etixx-Quickstep
General classification after stage five
1 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 17:09:06
2 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica GreenEdge 0:00:01
3 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sky 0:00:16
4 Daniel Martin (Irl) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 0:00:27
5 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:31
6 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar 0:00:33
7 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:35
8 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:36
9 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:39
10 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:52