Bevin fights back to hold Tour lead

Patrick Bevin walking gingerly post-race after crashing during stage five at the Tour Down Under
Patrick Bevin walking gingerly post-race after crashing during stage five at the Tour Down Under

Patrick Bevin plans to start the final stage of the Tour Down Under after he showed remarkable courage to retain the race lead.

The New Zealander crashed near the end of Saturday's stage five and was taken to hospital by ambulance.

He has bruised ribs, a bruised hip and multiple contusions.

The CCC Team rider will also have to undergo a concussion test on Sunday morning ahead of stage six at Willunga.

"I'm pretty banged up right now, but I really hope that I will be able to line up tomorrow," he said.

"Fortunately, nothing is broken so we will see how I pull up in the morning."

The New Zealander turned himself inside out to not lose any time after he was caught in the pileup 10km from the finish.

Paced by fellow CCC Team riders, Bevin desperately chased down the peloton and rejoined the bunch within 3km of the finish.

But he was in agony after dismounting his bike and was holding his right side.

"He's a brave and gutsy guy - he went down hard," TV commentator Stuart O'Grady said of Bevin.

In a statement, CCC Team thanked the Australian Mitchelton-Scott team for briefly making the peloton slow the pace as Bevin tried to rejoin the race.

Bevin leads Mitchelton-Scott's South African rider Daryl Impey by seven seconds.

"A classy show of respect for Bevin's leader's jersey from Mitchelton-Scott saw the peloton slow down for the next 5km and with the help of his teammates, Bevin pushed through the pain and was able to rejoin the bunch," the team said.

Before the crash, stage five had been a solid day for Bevin and Impey.

They had shared the spoils in the two intermediate sprints, with Impey beating Bevin in the first and the result reversed in the second.

That meant they gained five seconds apiece on climbers such as Australian star Richie Porte who are lurking ahead of Sunday's summit finish at Willunga.

Bevin still leads Impey by seven seconds, while Porte is 26 seconds off the pace.

The New Zealander already had gained plenty of admirers after he took the race lead by winning stage two and managed to hold onto the ochre jersey.

Australian Associated Press