Cycling: Ewan wins stage two of Herald Sun Tour as Kennaugh retains lead

Australian cyclist Caleb Ewan (right) celebrates as he wins stage two of the 2016 Herald Sun Tour on Feb 5, 2016.
Australian cyclist Caleb Ewan (right) celebrates as he wins stage two of the 2016 Herald Sun Tour on Feb 5, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

MELBOURNE (AFP) - Caleb Ewan won a tough second stage of the Herald Sun Tour in Australia on Friday, but Team Sky's Peter Kennaugh and Chris Froome did enough to stay on top in the overall standings.

Rising Australian sprinter Ewan, who won two stages of the Tour Down Under last month, completed the 144.2-kilometre stage in three hours, 29 minutes and six seconds.

The 21-year-old Orica GreenEDGE rider came in just ahead of American Tanner Putt (UHC) and Sky team-mates Kennaugh and Froome, followed by Australian Jack Bobridge (Trek-Segafredo).

"On the final climb I knew Bobridge and Kennaugh were strong," Ewan said. "I fought for dear life and was able to stay with them. It's a real confidence boost to be able to win on terrain like this when it's tough."

British road champion and Olympic gold medallist Kennaugh, who won the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race last week, leads the overall standings on 6hr 33min 21sec, 13 seconds ahead of two-time Tour de France winner Froome.

Friday's race, which began in the grazing farmlands of South Gippsland's Yarra Junction and ended in the town of Moe, saw several riders break away early.

But they were ultimately reeled in by the peloton driven by Orica-GreenEDGE and Team Sky.

Bobridge made a move towards the end, with Kennaugh, Ewan and Australia's Jack Haig (Orica-GreenEDGE) going with him and Froome and Putt joining the group soon after.

The six fought it out to the finish line with Ewan crossing first.

"I gave it one last dig at the end but I knew it was always going to be hard to shake Caleb off," said Kennaugh.

The race has its longest stage of 146.2km on Saturday before Sunday's final stage of 121.8km which ends in Arthurs Seat in the Mornington Peninsula.