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A little less than two weeks after Tim Merlier (Soudal-QuickStep) pipped Caleb Ewan (Lotto Dstny) by the narrowest of margins in a photo finish on the opening stage of the UAE Tour, Merlier continued his fine start to the season with another victory at Paris-Nice, while Ewan was experiencing a presumably unwelcome case of déjà vu over in Belgium.
Sunday's GP Jean-Pierre Monseré, a 1.1-rated one-day race in Flanders, came down to a bunch kick after nearly 200 kilometres of racing on lumpy roads. Leading the sprint charge for his Belgian Lotto Dstny team, Ewan followed his lead-out train and then launched for the finish line.
As the sprint unfolded, Gerben Thijssen of Intermarché-Circus-Wanty pulled neck-and-neck with Ewan, and as they crossed the line, they were so tightly matched that it was not immediately clear who the day's winner really was. Once again, it would come down to a closer look at a photo finish.
This time, adding to the eventual agony, Ewan was initially declared the winner – only to see that decision reversed.
Upon further review, it was determined that Thijssen, himself a former Lotto rider, had won the day. Yet again, Ewan was left to accept runner-up honors by the narrowest of margins.
“Of course, it’s never nice to lose on a photo finish," he said afterward, according to his team. "This is disappointing but we keep on working to get that victory. I’ve been close a couple of times this season and I’m sure that the win is coming soon."
Thus far, the Australian speedster is still looking for his first international win of 2023 outside of his triumph in the Schwalbe Classic criterium in Adelaide. Then again, if he can make that happen in his next major event, it may have been worth the wait. Even with the disappointing final result, Ewan's GP Jean-Pierre Monseré was a solid marker for both rider and team ahead of his next major objective, Milan-San Remo.
Ewan has finished as runner-up on two separate occasions in the Italian Monument, but has yet to stand atop the podium.
“I had a really strong team with me today and they did great to keep me out of the danger zone and the wind," Ewan said Sunday. "Also when the bunch split for a moment, we were always attentive. The guys rode a strong final and dropped me off perfectly towards the line. Unfortunately, I could not reward them with the win but this team work gives us confidence towards the next races, beginning with Milan-Sanremo.”
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