The Lotto-Soudal sprinter was hugely impressive in the final of the Italian Monument, holding position at the front of the peloton on the final climb and fending off attacks from Julian Alaphilippe and Wout van Aert.
Despite making it into the sizeable group that went to the line, Ewan was forced to settle for a podium finish as Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) powered clear with an attack 2km from the line.
Speaking after the stage, the 26-year-old Australian said: “I knew coming into the race I was in good form, like most years I target this race and this year I’ve really tried to improve my climbing and I’ve even practiced that exact attack on the Poggio many times before this race, and that’s why I knew that in the end I should be able to follow the attacks.
“I was in a good position for most of the Poggio and then when they went I was suffering a bit, but I had enough left to follow them and I was actually quite comfortable.”
On paper, Ewan was the fastest man in the 17-rider group that finished together on the famous Via Roma, with Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) also making the selection.
But as Stuyven powered his way to the line, the chasers were unable to work together as no rider wanted to compromise his chances in a sprint if Stuyven was caught.
Ewan said: “It would have been nice to have one [team-mate] there to keep it together because I know that if that group’s together I’m usually the fastest guy there.
“It’s always a lottery in that situation because there’s always going to be attacks and you have to just wait, because I can’t go to the front and bring every attack back.
“I have to take the risk and I did what I had to do to win, in the end we waited too long.”
Despite finishing second, Ewan said the result was a disappointment, as it was the second time in his career he has narrowly missed out on the win, finishing behind Vincenzo Nibali in 2018.
He said: “The first time I was second it was a really good result, that confirmed I could potentially win the race one day.
“I’m pretty disappointed this time.”