Above photos: ©bettiniphoto
The Santos Tour Down Under ended with a 90-kilometer criterium, and the only question ahead of the start was: who could beat Caleb Ewan?
The answer, after a blistering fast race, was no one.
Ewan (Orica-Scott) made a clean sweep of every bunch sprint in the six-day event, handily taking his fourth win Sunday - and fifth when adding in the opening People's Choice criterium.
Eddy did what he had to do, and normally when it was my turn to do my job I looked back once more, and I didn’t see Mads, so I decided to wait for the sprint.
Trek-Segafredo displayed solid teamwork in the final laps. Leading over the finish line for the final lap they appeared in control, but the course was tricky to maintain position, explained Koen de Kort who, normally the last leadout, ending up making the sprint and finished seventh.
"I think we stayed well together because it was a tricky course, especially with the U-turn in the back and it's hard to stay together out of a U-turn like that," explained de Kort. "Then especially going down the hill it all bunches up and at the bottom is basically the most crucial turn because if you lose each other there, then it's hard to get together again. And unfortunately, that's what happened.
"It was only Eddy [Theuns] and myself left, and normally we were going to do the sprint for Mads [Pedersen], but I lost him. I heard him say something on the radio, I couldn't hear what it was, and I kept yelling his name. When I didn't hear him, there was no time to wait anymore.
"So Eddy did what he had to do, and normally when it was my turn to do my job I looked back once more, and I didn’t see Mads, so I decided to wait for the sprint. I was really in a good position, and for a moment there I thought I was going to make podium. But unfortunately, I lacked a little bit of top end power when it came to the last little bit. But it's nice to be up there and do a sprint again.
"It's unfortunate that we lost Mads because I felt really strong and it was the perfect opportunity for me to start a leadout; Mads would have been in an ideal position. It is how it is, and at least we salvaged with a top 10."
Richie Porte (BMC) won the two climbing stages and easily sealed the overall title, giving Australia the claim of all seven stage wins in their home race.
Trek-Segafredo came into the WorldTour race with high ambitions, but like most of the northern hemisphere, ended up battling for the minor places behind home country-riders displaying peak summer-form.
"We did not get the results that we would have liked and wanted to have, but looking at the race as a whole, we saw a lot of nice things from the team this week," philosophized director Kim Andersen. "With four new faces, I was happy how the team came together and worked so well in the sprints. They looked good.
"We saw that Edward is back on track, and there is no doubt he will be even better for the next races. We saw two young riders, Mads and Ruben, coming into the team and immediately fit in well, and for sure we will see a lot of good things from them in the future. No results, but we saw some good things we can take away – a positive start to the season."