Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) slumped over his handlebars after the stage 12 finish in Bibione, disappointed to finish second in what is almost cerain to be his final stage in this year's Giro d'Italia.
Ewan was perfectly placed on Andre Greipel's wheel in the finishing straight but tried to pass the German via the barriers and Greipel closed the door on the young Australian just enough to dissuade him from fighting his way and perhaps putting them both in danger. Ewan eased up, checked that he was assured of second place and follow Greipel across the line.
"I think the finish suited me, it was a really technical circuit and I'm used to that kind of racing in the crits in Australia," Ewan explained. "Luka (Mezgec) put me perfectly behind Greipel in the sprint and I think he could see me coming, so he closed me in on me towards the fence. I don't know how close I would have come if he hadn't done that but it was pretty disappointing that he did."
Ewan proudly refuted suggestions that what happened was typical 'sprinters stuff', where the riders try to use their speed to exploit and defend any possible way to the front of the sprint.
"I guess its sprinter's stuff but it ruined my line for the sprint," he argued. "Maybe I'd have beaten him, maybe I wouldn't but I felt good and it was just disappointing to have my run cut short, when I was coming around him. I guess it was a smart move by him but it is pretty incorrect."
Greipel later dismissed any suggestion that he closed the door on Ewan when he spoke to the media in his stage winner's press conference, saying he simply took the best line, with his decision due to a side wind in the finish.
Greipel confirmed that the stage to Bibione will be his last in this year's Giro d'Italia and Ewan went close to making the same announcement. The Giro d'Italia now heads into the mountains for three days and the few sprinters are staying in the race in the hope of winning stage 17 to Cassano d'Adda and the final stage to Turin.
"I've got to speak to my sports directors but the plan was stay till stage 12. We'll see. I'm still feeling good but I'm young, so maybe it's time to stop before I dig myself too much into a hole," he suggested.
"I feel a lot better here than I did on the Vuelta. I think I'm another level higher now. That's a positive take out of it. Obviously I'd have liked to win a stage and for that it's disappointing but I've got many years to come and I'm sure I can a stage in the future."
Ewan confirmed he will now head to his European base and enjoy a short break before training for the five-day Tour of Luxembourg that begins on Wednesday June 1.
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