Caleb Ewan isn’t normally in the business of going full bore in individual time trials, but stage 2 of the Giro d’Italia in Budapest doubled as a sort of fitness test for the Australian after his heavy crash on the opening day.
Although Ewan reported no broken bones in the crash, the Lotton Soudal rider lost some skin when he fell heavily on his left side. His night’s sleep was not unduly interrupted by the injuries, however, and he awoke on Saturday cautiously optimistic that his Giro had not been unduly compromised.
The technical 9.2km time trial course along the boulevards of Pest and then across the Danube river to hillier Buda demanded constant accelerations, which allowed Ewan to run through the scales ahead of the race’s next likely sprint opportunity on the shore of Lake Balaton on Sunday.
“I feel alright, actually. You never really know firstly until you wake up in the morning and secondly when you get on the bike,” Ewan said after completing his time trial, 1:06 off the winning time set by Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange-Jayco). “Surprisingly I felt pretty good today.
“To be honest, I wanted quite a hard hit-out today just to open everything back up again and see how I feel. I felt pretty good, actually. Usually, I’m going quite slow in time trials, but today I felt I could push all the way, so I felt quite happy.”
Ewan had to abandon last year’s Tour de France after breaking his collarbone in a crash on stage 3, and he was content to downplay the significance of his injuries here. “It’s just skin: luckily there’s nothing broken, which is always the main scare,” he said.
The Lotto Soudal rider was equally even-handed when asked to revisit the incident that saw him crash within sight of the line in Visegrád on Friday. Ewan clipped the rear wheel of Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) as he battled to get on terms with stage winner Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), and he attached no blame to his fellow fast men.
“Obviously, I clipped the wheel. In that position, I was trying to think of a way to get out and the only way out was to go left,” Ewan said. “I was super close to the wheel, as you saw. Stuff happens in sprints.”
Ewan will now turn his attention to the Giro’s final stage in Hungary on Sunday, which brings the gruppo from Kaposvár to Balatonfüred. The category 4 climb to Tihany in the finale might discommode some of the sprinters, but, on the evidence of his performance on the 5km haul to the line in Visegrád, Ewan should not be unduly troubled. A rematch with Van der Poel and Girmay awaits, though Mark Cavendish (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) should also be in the mix.
“I think I’m climbing good anyway so if the climbs hurts some of the sprinters’ legs, then it’s probably good for me,” said Ewan. “Hopefully [the crash] doesn’t affect me too much. Today I felt good, but tomorrow is the important one. Hopefully, I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling good again.”
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Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation, published by Gill Books.
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