Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) has come to Tirreno-Adriatico to test his legs and to see if he could possibly go for the overall title off the back of a top 10 at Strade Biache, starting with a superb victory ahead of Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) and Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates).
The day was a rather slow 156km stage until about 20km to go when the pace suddenly started to rocket as the peloton reeled in the break on the wide roads coming into the finish.
The wide roads did mean that the peloton was all over the place with teams coming up from all sides, but it was the Belgian all-rounder superstar who sprinted from the front to hold off a late charge from Ewan, taking the victory and the blue overall leader's jersey.
How it happened
The stage started and finished in the coastal town of Lido di Camaiore with 156km of racing as the peloton took on two circuits, the first had three big loops taking in one categorised climb three times before getting onto the second flat circuit around the finishing town.
Jan Bakelants (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Simone Velasco (Gazprom-RusVelo), Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo-Kometa), Samuele Rivi (Eolo-Kometa), Mattias Bais (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), and Guy Niv (Israel Start-Up Nation) all went into the day's main break, establishing a maximum gap of around three minutes.
Albanese took two of the three mountain points with Bakelants taking the first. Belgian Bakelants came second in the next two before dropping back to the peloton with around 100km to go.
The sprinters' teams were controlling the pace with Lotto-Soudal, Alpecin-Fenix, Cofidis, and Total Direct Energie all riding towards the front.
With 25km to go the gap to the break had fallen to within a minute which saw Rivi and Bais go on the attack, dropping Albanese and Niv after Velasco had dropped back to the peloton around 15km before.
The break was finally caught with 10km to go with multiple teams mobbing the front of the peloton as the pace began to rocket.
As they made the final turn with 8km to go the race was still all over the road with Eolo-Kometa holding the control of the pack, but it was Lotto-Soudal who came up with 5km to go for their leader.
UAE Team Emirates took control for the lead out for Gaviria but it was Van Aert who forced his way through and powered to the line in a not very aerodynamic position ahead of Ewan.
Van Aert goes into the blue leader's jersey for stage two; a 202km hillier stage from Camaiore to Chiusdino.
Tirreno-Adriatico 2021: stage one, Lido di Camaiore - Lido di Camaiore (156km)
1. Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma, in 3-36-17
2. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto-Soudal
3. Fernando Gaviria (Col) UAE Team Emirates
4. Andrea Vendrame (Ita) Ag2r Citroën Team
5. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team BikeExchange
6. Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
7. Alvaro Hodeg (Col) Deceuninck - Quick-Step
8. Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck - Quick-Step
9. Iván García Cortina (Esp) Bahrain Victorious
10. Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Israel Start-Up Nation, all at same time
General classification after stage one
1. Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma, in 3-36-07
2. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto-Soudal, at 4 seconds
3. Fernando Gaviria (Col) UAE Team Emirates, at 6s
4. Simone Velasco (Ita) Gazprom-RusVelo, at 7s
5. Mattia Bais (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, at 8s
6. Andrea Vendrame (Ita) Ag2r Citroën Team, at 10s
7. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team BikeExchange
8. Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
9. Alvaro Hodeg (Col) Deceuninck - Quick-Step
10. Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, all at same time
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