Stage 2 of the Tour Down Under was a case of two steps forward, one step back for Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal). The Australian put right the mistakes made on stage 1 when he was caught out of position, but he was still unable to come away with the win after Patrick Bevin (CCC Team) produced a faultless surge to nudge him into second.
“Well always knew that it was going to be a super tough finish,” Ewan said of the finish.
The uphill drag proved too much for the pure sprinters, some of whom were caught up in a late crash, while Ewan was the only remaining fast-man to come close to Bevin as the line approached.
“I just had to be in a good position at the start of the climb. I was probably a little further back than where I wanted to be, maybe I wasted a little too much energy moving back to the front but I think that my form is still good. There’s nothing to worry about,” Ewan said.
“I did hear a bit of a crash but I’m not sure what happened. We ended up in a good position and I started my sprint when I wanted to but I just didn’t have the legs, especially against someone like Patrick, who is more of a sprinter-climber and can get over something like that a little bit fresher than me.”
There is no shame in a sprinter losing in Angaston. In 2014, Simon Gerrans put André Greipel to the sword on the same finish, while Matthew Goss did the same to Greipel and Robbie McEwen in 2011. Ewan compared Bevin’s ride and characteristics to Gerrans.
“I’m not surprised by Patrick. I know how well he can sprint and how well he can climb. He’s really a Gerrans style of rider, so this sort of finish probably suits him a bit better than a pure sprinter.”
Two losses in two days means that the shine has worn off after Ewan’s win in the Down Under Classic. With two difficult days ahead before his next and final opportunity to win in this race, the 24-year-old has time to analyse his sprint and his lead-out.
Only one pure sprinter has won so far in this year’s race, so this is far from a disaster for a rider who has only just moved teams, but questions will inevitably keep coming as the WorldTour race progresses. When asked by the home media to analyse the last two defeats, Ewan was both honest and positive. For now, at least, that’s all he can do.
“They were too different scenarios. Yesterday it was because I was out of position and today I just didn’t have the legs in the end for a tough finish like that. I actually felt good in the heat today. Stage 5 is the next opportunity so we’ll try and save energy and get ready for that one.”