Daryl Impey maintained his second place position on the general classification in the penultimate stage of the Tour Down Under in Australia on Saturday.
The defending champion added five bonus seconds in stage five which ended in drama when race leader Patrick Bevin crashing 10km from the finish.
Bevin managed to recover from the crash and rejoin the peloton strengthening his lead of seven seconds over Impey (Mitchelton-SCOTT).
“The way we rode today, we knew we had to take the race by the scruff of the neck and we did that today,” Impey told the team’s website.
“We showed that we had the guts that although the sprint was a far way out (from the start) we committed to keeping it together and continue to the second one as well.
“I’m very happy to get five seconds today and the guys rode really well. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, hopefully, 19 seconds is enough, I think it’s one second more than I had last year.”
Bevin had been hospitalised while initial stage winner Caleb Ewan’s was disqualified for headbutting Belgian rider Jasper Philipsen in the sprint to the line.
“(Bevin) crashed just in front of me, I was actually lucky to miss it. I’m not sure what happened there but he came down hard,” Impey said.
“It’s really unfortunate for Paddy because he was riding really well and he had a nice advantage. I’m glad he finished on bunch time and I hope he can bounce back and race tomorrow.”
Team Dimension Data’s Ryan Gibbons finished the stage in eight places launching him into fourth on the GC while it also earned him the Young Rider jersey going into the final stage.
“I was definitely hoping for more than eighth in the sprint but in that final kilometre, I found myself too far back, with not much opportunity to move up,” Gibbons said.
“The young rider’s jersey is a great consolation though. It’s pretty surreal actually.
“If someone said I’d be in fourth place overall and in the white jersey heading to Willunga a few days ago, you would’ve said they are crazy.”