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Clock is ticking for Ewan to take a Giro d'Italia stage win

Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal)
Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) (Image credit: Getty Images)

Caleb Ewan came to the Giro d'Italia to win a stage, and the Lotto Soudal rider does not want to go home without one. Ewan intends to leave the race this week before the high mountain stages so he can refocus on the Tour de France as early as Wednesday.

"I don't know the exact stage that I will stop yet," Ewan said in a virtual press conference during the Giro d'Italia rest day on Monday. "It will be somewhere between stage 11 and 13. I won't go past [stage] 13 because it will get too hard for me then. And obviously, I have to keep the Tour in mind as well. If I'm feeling good, I'll go until 13 and if I'm not feeling great, then I'll probably do the sprint on 11 and then stop."

Ewan was close to a victory on the opening stage on the climb to Visegrád in Hungary but crashed in the final metres after running into the rear wheel of Intermarché's Biniam Girmay. He was then second to Arnaud Démare in Scalea. There are at least two opportunities for the sprinters in the coming days: first, a hilly run-in to Jesi in Tuesday's stage 10, then a "pan flat" stage 11 to Reggio Emilia on Wednesday and, after a medium mountain stage 12, an almost guaranteed sprint on Friday in Cuneo.

Ewan admitted the lack of a win so far is "not ideal". "I came here to win a stage or more and I haven't done that yet. There's only a few more opportunities to come. But I've been in this situation before, so I know that I have to kind of keep doing what I'm doing. And hopefully one day it will work and I'll win a stage."

The Lotto Soudal lead-out train started the Giro d'Italia missing one of its main members, with Jasper De Buyst out with a broken collarbone and pelvis from a crash in Tour of Turkey. The team had to re-work their plan with Rüdiger Selig taking his place, but the German did not finish Sunday's Blockhaus stage.

"Obviously, it's a pretty big loss for our lead-out train because he was the last man," Ewan said. "We'll just have to reassess the way we do the sprints. We're gonna have to do them a little bit differently. So yeah, I mean, it's done now. He's gone home. So yeah, it's just about looking forward to the next sprint and seeing how we can do it differently without him."

De Buyst and Ewan have been working successfully together for four seasons and the Belgian has "always been my last man", Ewan says. "He's someone that I can trust in the finals and trust to get me to where I need to be." Selig was usually further ahead in the train, and moving up to last man is a big adjustment, especially for a Grand Tour. "The Giro is probably not the time to learn that kind of stuff," Ewan said. "I think if we had Rudi, Jasper and then me that it would have been a super strong train. It's a pretty big loss without him."

Lotto Soudal got a stage win in Naples thanks to Thomas De Gendt, who attacked out of the day's breakaway and claimed the win, which Ewan said took some pressure off.

"Most of the pressure comes from myself to win a stage. The important thing is Thomas's win took the pressure off the whole team, and it's just a much nicer environment to be in when the riders, the staff, and everyone, have been more relaxed.

"Regardless of what happens in this Giro, we at least have one win and that's more than what a lot of teams will be able to say at the end of it."

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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. A former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks.