Caleb Ewan watched a reply of the Giro d'Italia sprint on a mobile phone as he recovered from his sprint effort in Fucecchio. He was satisfied with the lead-out from his Lotto Soudal teammates but disappointed that he could not finish off the job and win the first sprint of the 2019 Corsa Rosa.
Lotto Soudal led out the sprint in the final kilometre, perfectly protecting the Australia. He kicked early and looked set to win as Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) and Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) were unable to come off his wheel. However, Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) took a different line and produced a little more speed, edging past Ewan in sight of the finish line.
Ewan stopped the finish area to thank his teammates and see how Ackerman beat him.
"It was a perfect lead-out. I felt my sprint was good too but I was dying a little bit at the end," he told Cyclingnews.
"The positive to take out today's results is the work the boys did. They did such a good job. I'm really proud of how they rode. If we keep riding like this, then we can get a win."
Ewan joined Lotto Soudal for the 2019 season after six seasons with the Australian Mitchelton-Scott team, keen to have more support in the sprints.
So far this season he has won a stage at the UAE Tour and two at the more recent Presidential Tour of Turkey. He also finished second on a stage at the Tour Down Under and was a runner-up twice at Paris-Nice. Lotto Soudal have built their Giro d'Italia around Ewan, with only Thomas De Gendt, Jelle Vanendert and Hour Record holder Victor Campenaerts chasing other goals.
Jasper De Buyst, Tosh van der Sande and Roger Kluge took control of the sprint but Ewan lacked just a little extra speed.
"This is the first time that we've had Tosh and Jasper here. For them to get it so right at the first go is pretty impressive," Ewan explained.
"I'm disappointed that I couldn't finish it off. The team rode perfectly but I didn't do my job perfectly. Maybe I went a little early because I could feel I was dying in the end. But it was also a tough stage with the rain and the climbing."
Ewan took heart from Lotto Soudal's performance, especially when his thoughts turned to the days to come. There are arguably five or six more opportunities for the sprinters in the next ten days of the Giro d'Italia.
"For sure we've got some more chances in the next few days. If we keep riding like that, then for sure we can get a win," he concluded on an upbeat note.
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