Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) wanted to ride on through the finish area in Olbia, looking for some extra road to vent his anger and frustration at finishing second to late attacker Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe), and so missing out a great chance of taking the first pink jersey of the 100th Giro d'Italia.
Selection for doping control meant Ewan had to turn back against the flow of riders and squeeze past the Bora-Hansgrohe riders who were celebrating together. They had hit the jackpot, while he was left empty handed.
Ewan also crossed paths with some of his teammates as he rode to the podium area and the anti-doping area. They quickly realised what happened and were equally as disappointed. Something went wrong in several teams' lead-out strategy and a moment of hesitation in the pack, allowing Pöstlberger to open a gap and then stay away.
Ewan was perfectly placed on Andre Greipel's wheel in the final metres of the stage. He kicked hard and a little early to emerge from the chaos and traffic, and was strong and fast as he stayed in his low tuck position. But with his front row seat, he could see Pöstlberger celebrating ahead of him as the finish line approached that little bit too late.
"I felt really good and I think I did a really good sprint. You don't get many opportunities to lead a Grand Tour and so I'm pretty disappointed that I missed the chance," Ewan told Cyclingnews after stopping before entering the anti-doping area.
"We made the plan to go a little bit early because it was really technical in the last part of the stage. We did that and then I'm not sure what happened in the end there. We ended up letting the wheel go and he stayed away."
"It was a really strong move by [Lukas Pöstlberger], you have to congratulate the move," Ewan added sportingly. "It was a hectic finish and sometimes a moment's hesitation can lose the race."
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Ewan is second overall, four seconds behind Pöstlberger due to the ten, six and four second time bonuses. A top three placing on Saturday's second stage to Tortoli would move him into the pink jersey a day later than he hoped. However, he knows that the hilly profile of the 221km stage and especially the long, gradual climb in the final 50 kilometres means he may not get his chance for revenge. It is some consolation but the pink jersey is perhaps beyond his grasp.
"Tomorrow is pretty hilly and I think it's going to be super tough, so we'll see just how it goes," he concluded pessimistically before entering anti-doping.
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