New Tour de Yorkshire GC leader Caleb Ewan says the British race will be the ideal preparation for his assault on the Giro d’Italia, which starts next Friday in Sardinia.
The diminutive Aussie fastman placed second in the bunch sprint for the second day running after the 122.5km dash from Tadcaster to Harrogate. The stage win went to Nacer Bouhanni of Cofidis.
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“If luck kinda went my way I could’ve stood on the top step here,” said Ewan. “But I definitely think my form’s there and I can take that kind of confidence going into the Giro.”
His chief rivals in Italy in the sprints are set to be André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors).
However, sizing up Sunday’s ultra-hilly stage in Yorkshire, he admitted that holding onto the GC leader’s blue jersey to the end of the race was unlikely.
“It’ll be a good last hit-out I think before the Giro,” he said. “If I can get one last good hit-out tomorrow and then rest up till the Giro on Friday I think it’ll be perfect preparation for me.”
Just like all the men and women who have raced here this weekend, the 22-year-old was bountiful in his praise for the race and in particular the crowds.
“It’s amazing. Even yesterday during business hours the crowd was amazing, and then today it’s the weekend and it seems like everyone came out to watch the race.
“I love racing here — the crowds here are probably the best in the world,” he said, before reiterating what seems to be another universally accepted constant here — that the riding is extremely tough.
“Shorter stages seem to be a bit tougher. It’s kind of hard all day, and the roads here they’re narrow and they’re kind of dead, and steep little climbs… it never makes for an easy stage. It was predicted to be a sprint it wasn’t really that straightforward.”
Ewan leads the GC by two seconds from fellow sprinters Bouhanni and stage one winner Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo). But it’s unlikely any of them will be anywhere near the top of the leaderboard in 24 hours’ time, with eight climbs to be contested over 194km from Bradford to the race’s denouement in Fox Valley, Sheffield.