Ewan showing solid form in Tour de Pologne after long spell away

Australian takes second behind Sagan on opening bunch sprint stage

Caleb Ewan's defeat to Peter Sagan on stage 1 of the Tour de Pologne could not stop the Orica-Scott fast man from taking more than a few plus points away from his first WorldTour sprint since in May.

Ewan raced the Hammer Series in early June, where his squad finished third overall, but the Tour de Pologne is his first competitive traditional road event since the Giro d'Italia, where he won a stage on a technical, twisting finish into the southern town of Alberobello.

Ewan already had four top five places to his name in the Tour de Pologne from his previous participations in 2015 and 2016. His best result was a second place to Marcel Kittel in Warsaw two years ago, and he had to settle for another runner-up spot in Krakow on Saturday.

"I was left pretty early with just Luka [Mezgec] left and down the back straight of the course in the last lap, a few strong attacks went," Ewan told Cyclingnews after the finish.

"He had to pretty much shut both of them down so he did a massive turn, and obviously towards the end, he couldn't do a lead-out because he'd done so much work before. But he still did a brilliant job to drop me off right near the front."

Mezgec also kept Ewan out of trouble and close to the front when arguably it mattered most, at the point when a crash blighted several of the sprinters' chances of taking on Sagan. "I didn't see the crash, I was in a good position, and I didn't get caught behind," Ewan said.

However, things went more than a little awry in the final moments of the stage, with Ewan boxed in on the left hand side of the road as Sagan blasted away to victory. "Sagan got the jump on me, and by the time I could get out, it was too late and I couldn't really come back at him," he said.

On the plus side, Ewan pointed out that he was nonetheless in contention for the win, and his display on Saturday’s opening leg showed the benefits of his block of training ahead of the race.

"It's been a while. I've been training well and everything, but obviously it's not the same as racing, so I'm pretty happy with how it went today [Saturday]," Ewan said. "Tomorrow [Sunday] should be another bunch sprint, it's the fast downhill finish [in Katowice] they have most years, so it should be pretty hectic, but it should be good."

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