Ewan bumped with Colombian Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) on his right, causing his left foot to unclip immediately after. Instead of fighting for the win, he slipped back to finish ninth behind winner André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and one place behind Geraint Thomas (Team Sky).
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“I think it was Fernando Gaviria who I bumped into. My foot came out of the pedal, and at that point in the race it’s going to be pretty hard to get back into the sprint,” he said. “I’m devastated to be honest.”
At the bus, he looked down at his pedal to inspect a possible cause. He left it with the mechanic and climbed aboard to shower.
Yesterday, Austrian Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) slipped off the front and left the sprinters behind, leaving Ewan to settle for second place. Had he won today or placed highly, he may have taken the race leader’s pink jersey.
“If I can take something out of the last couple of days it is that I have form and I know I can do it. I just was about to restart my sprint when it happened, so I’m pretty disappointed,” he said.
“What was the cause? I’m not sure, to be honest. It all happened very quickly. One minute I’m sprinting in, the next minute I’m one-footed.”
Team sports director, Matt White said, “It’s a shame because he was in another good position and it’s an opportunity lost.”
Most, including White, predicted that the day’s tough stage that would exclude many sprinters. The road topped at 1,000 metres and dropped to sea-level over the 20 kilometres to the finishing town on Sardinia’s east coast. There was considerable doubt as to whether the Giro’s pure-bred sprinters would make it over the summit with the peloton to be able to contest the finish.
Instead, riders chose to take it relatively easy, leaving the likes of Ewan, Greipel and Gaviria to eye a stage victory.
“It definitely was not easy. I think there is around three and a half thousand metres of climbing so it’s almost like a mountain stage,” Ewan added. “Luckily, we do not go to hard over the climbs and I could sprint.”
“I was more surprised with how today’s stage was raced, a lot of things happened and they didn’t,” White explained. “I know it’s early in the tour, but I think we averaged 36kph [36.299] in a six-hour-plus day. It was a pretty cruisey day but it could’ve been a lot tougher.”