With his ochre leader's jersey in tatters and blood streaming down his elbows and knees, Patrick Bevin put in the ride of his life to keep his dream of Tour Down Under glory alive.

Now, he has to hope the damage caused by a late crash on stage five doesn't impact his chances of overall victory.

A crash with 10 kilometres remaining on the penultimate stage saw Bevin hit the deck hard, and as he got up, limping, it looked like his race was over.

But, somehow, he found the strength to continue, and even more incredibly, he managed to get back to the peloton. The peloton briefly slowed in a sign of sportsmanship for the leader's jersey, but with the finish line so close, they had to keep the tempo high, leaving Bevin with plenty of work to do to catch up.


Fighting through the pain, he did just that, crossing the line in 44th on the stage won by Jasper Philipsen, to keep the lead of the race going into the decisive final stage tomorrow.

But, Bevin immediately headed to Calvary Wakefield Hospital in Adelaide, where X-Rays and CT scans showed he sustained a bruised hip, bruised rib and multiple contusions.

Bevin will be observed overnight and will undergo a concussion test on Sunday morning to determine whether he is able to start the final stage.

"It was such a nervous stage and there was a battle for position all day. All it took was a touch of wheels and I went down. I'm pretty banged up right now but I really hope that I will be able to line up tomorrow. Fortunately, nothing is broken so we will see how I pull up in the morning," said Bevin.

Up until the touch of wheels near the end of the stage brought Bevin crashing down, stage five was near-perfect for his hopes of becoming just the second New Zealander to win a World Tour race.

Bevin claimed five bonus seconds in intermediate sprints to maintain his seven-second lead over defending champion Daryl Impey, and extend his margin to 26 seconds over the rest of his main rivals.

Now his attention turns to the race's biggest test - the final stage which ends with an ascent of Willunga Hill, a climb which is tough enough when not nursing injuries.

The 3.6 kilometre climb at an average gradient of 7.1 per cent has been won for five consecutive years by Australian climber Richie Porte, and he, plus several others, are almost certain to take time from Bevin on the race-concluding summit finish.


However, the question will be just how much time Bevin's rivals can gain, and Bevin's time bonuses earned today could prove pivotal - as could the injuries from his unfortunate crash.

At full health, Bevin is unlikely to lose 27 seconds to the contending climbers - but with a 10 second bonus on hand for winning the stage, and teams unlikely to let a breakaway contest victory, the winner of the stage could only need 17 seconds on Bevin to claim overall glory.

Last year, Porte won the stage by eight seconds over Impey, and put 10-20 seconds into the rest of the contenders. Yesterday, Bevin lost roughly 12 seconds to a quartet of climbers on the 2.3 kilometre Corkscrew climb, before catching them on the descent, but with no descent to end the stage tomorrow, it looks like the race for overall victory could come right down to the wire.

Of course, Bevin is not the only Kiwi who could still win this race. George Bennett, the only New Zealander to have previously won a World Tour race with his Tour of California overall title in 2017, remains in seventh overall, 27 seconds behind Bevin.

Last year, Bennett's attempts to follow Porte on Willunga Hill backfired, and he lost 14 seconds, but he looked the strongest rider on the Corkscrew climb yesterday, and victory is not out of the question.

However, for the time being, all eyes will be on Bevin, and whether he will be able to fight for the top result that his incredible performance deserves.