Bevin (CCC) was the only man who had the legs to survive the uphill drag to Angaston, which proved too steep for overnight race leader Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep).
The newly crowned New Zealand national time trial champion stayed clear of a crash that held-up most of the peloton in the home stretch to claim his career first WorldTour victory ahead of Australia’s Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) and Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe).
“I don’t think anyone was picking that, I wasn’t picking that. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a good run in a bunch sprint,” said Bevin.
“I did a lot of work in the off-season with time trialling, with the power, simplifying what I was doing. Obviously, it’s working because I was floating around in that finish thinking I’ve got some legs here, I’m going to get a run at the line and see how this uphill sprint goes.”
CCC’s plan had been to work for sprinter Jakub Mareczko, who finished third behind Viviani and Max Walscheid (Sunweb) on stage one. However, Bevin had a free role in the finish where puncheurs have previously prevailed over sprinters.
“I got myself into a really good position coming into two kilometres to go as we dragged up, then put myself on the shoulder in the wind as that crash happened. I was already coming around and then as that was happening [Astana’s Luis Leon] Sanchez was off the front. I thought I’d use him as a springboard,” said Bevin.
“Straight sprinting, I wasn’t going to beat those guys. I had to take it long and capitalise on how hard that finish was. That was my play and it worked really well.”
Bevin after stage one said he was aiming for a top-five finish on the general classification here. He stayed modest and maintained that even with the ochre jersey on his shoulders on Wednesday.
“It’s a long week from here, we’ve had the two easy days. Tomorrow is tough,” he said.
“This is my fourth time at Down Under and I think it’s the toughest stage I’ve ever done here. We’ve ridden the circuit and it has the potential to be very, very hard.
"We’ll look at tomorrow and we’ll look at trying to put a plan together. Leading the race changes your tactics a little bit. It means you absorb a bit more pressure, but I feel like now we’re in a great position to box-on for the next four stages,” he said.