Sprinter Caleb Ewan was so close to a sure podium and potential win on stage 1 of this year’s Giro d’Italia, but what looked like it could be a perfect start slipped away as he slid across the tarmac within sight of the line. Now ten stages in, his fortunes at the race don’t seem to have improved much.
By stage 8 last year, Ewan had already left the Giro d'Italia with 2 victories under his belt. Now he is staring down stage 11 and the high mountains at the end of this week with two near misses instead, asa after the opening day crash came a photo finish on stage 6, where Ewan was just millimetres behind his rival Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ). Still, there was worse to come as on stage 10 instead of fighting for victory at the front of the race, Ewan was battling not to get thrown out of it at the back.
“The Giro from hell continued for me today,” said Ewan in an Instagram post. “Got dropped around 80km to go alone and just made it within the time limit.”
It was not a surprise to see the bulk of the sprinters dropped from the lead group, but Ewan has shown an ever improving ability to survive through the smaller climbs in recent seasons. At the start of the day Ewan said he was hoping, if the legs and race panned out in his favour, that he could possibly even be there at the end, challenging alongside stage winner Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) and second placed Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) again.
"Like the first day, if I have really good legs then you never know," Ewan told Cycling Pro Net. "So I'll give myself a shot but in general it's probably too hard, but we'll see."
The answer came earlier than expected, when Ewan was the first of the sprinters to get dropped, battling through to come over the line more than 31 minutes behind the victorious Eritrean and even thirteen minutes adrift from the back group which contained sprint rival Mark Cavendish (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl).
“Since my crash on the first stage I feel like my Giro just keeps going down hill,” said Ewan in the Instagram post. “Another sprint chance tomorrow so I’m hoping to turn it around.”
The 27-year-old said on the rest day he planned to leave the race at some point before the high mountains arrive on Saturday, so he can shift his attention to performing at the Tour de France. That could mean leaving as soon as Wednesday after the flat stage of 203 kilometres is over.
If Ewan decides to continue on further, there is still one other likely sprint on the way before the high mountains – Friday's stage 13 to Cuneo. To get there, though, first he would have to make it through the medium mountains of stage 12 and after the last place on the hilly stage to Jesi, that all of a sudden seems a bigger hurdle to overcome.
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Simone joined the team as Production Editor based in Australia at the start of the 2021 season, having previously worked as Australian Editor at Ella CyclingTips and correspondent for Reuters and Bloomberg.