Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) had played down his chances of fighting for victory at Tirreno-Adriatico but ensured he was well placed in the hectic finish in Montalto di Castro. As he powered to the line using his super low, aerodynamic position only Fernando Gaviria had the speed and bike skills to beat him. The two 21-year-olds confirmed that they are the future stars of road sprinting at WorldTour level.
Ewan took his first WorldTour stage win at the 2015 Vuelta a Espana and backed it up with two stages at the Tour Down Under this year, while Gaviria has only just taken his first WorldTour victory.
Their rivalrly first began at the 2014 Tour de L’Avenir - when Ewan won a stage and Gaviria was eighth. They faced off again at the 2014 Under 23 world road race championships in Ponferrada, Spain. Ewan took the silver medal that day while Gaviria finished 10th. Ewan has gone on to take 14 victories, but Gaviria is catching up with seven wins over the past two seasons, plus his back-to-back Omnium world titles on the track.
Although they are physically different as sprinters, both are fast, fearless, and naturally competitive.
“This is the first time I’ve really raced him properly. Obviously, he’s super quick,” Ewan explained post stage. “He’s a bit bigger than me, but he’s still not a huge guy. He’s kind of in between the small sprinters and the really big ones.”
“I’m looking forward to sprinting against him this year and in the future. He seems a really nice guy, so I’m looking forward to this rivalry. It seems that we’re going to be sprinters of the future but I’m sure someone else will come along as well and so it won’t just be Gaviria and me.”
Seconds after the sprint, as Ewan rode back to the Orica-GreenEdge team bus, he talked through the fast and technically difficult Tirreno-Adriatico sprint to Cyclingnews.
“He got the jump on me and I got on him but he was too quick in the end, so it was a great sprint by him,” Ewan said.
“Position was really important in the final corners and the team did a great job to put me in a perfect spot. He was too quick today but we’ll try again in a few days.”