Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) admits the he made a “massive rookie error” in celebrating early on stage two of the Abu Dhabi Tour on Friday in the nation’s capital. Marcel Kittel (Quick Step Floors) took advantage and pipped him for the victory.
The 22-year-old Australian scored an impressive second place among some of the most established sprinters despite crashing on the previous day’s stage. Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) placed third and retained the leader’s jersey.
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“I’m usually pretty good at sprinting all the way to the line,” Ewan said. “Kittel was coming with a fair bit of speed and I didn’t see him coming. It was a massive rookie error on my part.
“Obviously, I learned to sprint all the way to the line and even throw on the line even if I think I have it comfortably.”
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The sprint came at the end of a long kilometre stretch. Orica and Quick-Step led to the line for their stars. Ewan, with his usual chest-on-bars position, surged ahead and appeared to have it won. He began celebrating while Kittel dived in towards the line.
“It was a bit embarrassing, more than anything, I have to go back to my team and explain what I did,” he added.
“The team gave me a perfect lead out. Cav, Kittel and Greipel all have their best lead-out men here. We took it to the front and they couldn’t come around us in the end, and obviously it was my stuff up that cost us the win.”
Ewan is in good company. Erik Zabel thought he had the 2004 Milan-San Remo in the bag and celebrated until he saw Oscar Freire sneak under him.
“I think it’s one of the mistakes that every sprinter does,” Kittel said. “I’m sure it’ll never happen again to Caleb.”
“I don’t think I lost a race like that since I was a junior,” Cavendish explained.
“I did it once in the junior Tour of Ireland, but I’ve won a couple of races because of that. I won the Scheldeprijs in 2008 with Tom [Boonen] when he did it. It’s part of it.”