Jasper Philipsen was awarded the stage victory after Caleb Ewan was relegated ©Getty Images

Belgium’s Jasper Philipsen was awarded victory on the fifth stage of the Tour Down Under after home favourite Caleb Ewan was relegated following the sprint finish in Strathalbyn.

The penultimate stage of the opening International Cycling Union (UCI) WorldTour race proved an eventful one as riders tackled a 149.5km route from Glenelg to Strathalbyn.

The majority of the action was packed into the closing 10 kilometres of the largely flat stage.

Race leader Patrick Bevin was forced to recover from a crash, which threatened the New Zealander’s chances of claiming the general classification.

Aided by a brief lull in the peloton and his CCC Team, Bevin eventually rejoined the group to cling on to his position.

Australia’s Ewan appeared to have secured his first stage win of this year’s race as the Lotto Soudal crossed the line first in 3hr 37min.

Race officials reviewed footage post race which saw Ewan clash with Philipsen in the sprint finish and the Australian was found to have used his head in a collision.

Having deemed Ewan to have sprinted in an irregular manner, officials relegated him to the back of the front group, as well as docking him points and handing the sprinter a 30-second penalty.

Caleb Ewan, centre, was dropped to the back of the front group following the alleged infringement ©Getty Images
Caleb Ewan, centre, was dropped to the back of the front group following the alleged infringement ©Getty Images

"During the final kilometres, I was on Peter Sagan’s wheel but Philipsen tried to take that spot as he tried to push me out of Sagan’s wheel,” Ewan said afterwards.

“You are not allowed to take your hands off the handlebars in the sprint so I used my head to avoid ending up in the barriers.

“Head movements are of course clearly visible on a helicopter shot but a lot of former sprinters will confirm that my manoeuvre was not irregular.”

Philipsen was able to celebrate a maiden UCI WorldTour stage win due to the decision, with Slovakia’s Sagan promoted into second place.

Dutch sprinter Danny van Poppel ended in third.

Having finished in the lead group, Bevin retained his narrow seven second advantage over defending champion Daryl Impey of South Africa in the general classification.

Bevin is set to be assessed overnight to determine whether he will be able to take part in the final stage following his injuries.

The final stage will see riders tackle a 151km route from McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill.

Given the hilly profile, Australia’s Richie Porte is considered one of the favourites for the stage victory.