Two months after breaking his collarbone, in a high-speed crash on the run into the finish line on stage 3 at the Tour de France, Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) returned to racing at Druivenkoers-Overijse.
The Australia rider had initially hoped that this would be the year that he could take at least one stage victory in all three Grand Tours. He was on track after the Giro d’Italia, with two wins, but that plan quickly unravelled when he crashed and suffered a displaced complex fracture of the right collarbone on the very first opportunity for a sprint stage victory at the Tour de France.
The recovery has seen him miss the Vuelta a España and instead turn his attention to other goals for 2021, including the UCI World Championships in Flanders where he will be spearheading the Australian squad alongside Michael Matthews.
Ewan lined up alongside Tim Wellens and Philippe Gilbert for Lotto Soudal at the one-day Druivenkoers-Overijse, which included a number of the short, steep climbs that will be raced during this year's World Championships, but it turned out to be a racing return that didn’t run to plan for the 27 year old.
“First day back racing after breaking my collarbone,” said Ewan in an Instagram post. “Hasn’t been the smoothest comeback but happy with where my form is now.”
Ewan, who has five victories to his name this year despite the injury interruptions, did not finish the race. He may have posed a DNF on the results, but was far from sitting back quietly in the peloton at his return event.
"The race exploded at around 70 kilometres to go where I was together with Caleb part of an attack but he went a little over his limits and had to let go,” said teammate Wellens in a team post. “I think it was clear that Evenepoel was the strongest rider in the race, he attacked when everyone was at the limit and I didn’t have the legs to join him."
Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) won the race with a 60 kilometre solo attack. The Belgian rider had a 35 second lead when, with 35 kilometres to go, a car accident and fire forced race organisers to stop the race for 15 minutes. Evenepoel didn’t let it interrupt his momentum, stretching out the gap even further after the restart.
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