It was an extended look ahead to Caleb Ewan after stage 1 of the UAE Tour to seek out out whether or not or not he had scooped up his first WorldTour stage win in nearly a yr. The Lotto Dstny rider labored his approach into the lead group in a crosswind strewn day after which within the dash crossed the road alongside Tim Merlier in a end that was in the end so shut that even the sluggish movement video and picture end didn’t make it clear who had received.
The Australian initially threw his arm within the air after his shortly making floor in his sprint from behind Merlier’s wheel within the closing metres – ‘when unsure declare it’ Ewan mentioned jokingly on instagram – however the uncertainty quickly grew. The pair had been once more alongside one another as they leaned near the display within the podium space when the sluggish movement replay was exhibiting, straining to see who may be the victor in a race that got here right down to millimetres. They weren’t the one ones questioning, with dialogue of a possible lifeless warmth flowing in social media and in commentary cubicles and Merlier’s crew posting on the end line picture on Twitter with the caption ‘you inform us who received’.
In the long run it was Merlier, however after a day the place Ewan had made all the precise strikes, there was each cause for a constructive outlook regardless of such an in depth miss of the highest step.
“However what can I say about it…? I wouldn’t do something totally different, actually,” mentioned Ewan in a crew media launch. “I used to be nearly quick sufficient however apparently not fairly sufficient.”
“Clearly, it’s disappointing to overlook out on the stage win with such a slim margin. However the principle factor to remove is the truth that I used to be up there, which reveals the nice kind I’m in and it’s solely promising for the subsequent dash phases this week.”
The stage which began at Al Dhafra Fort was ripped aside within the crosswinds early, with a gaggle of round 20 riders with some severe firepower amongst it splitting off out the entrance within the opening kilometres.
“It was a really robust day trip with the echelons taking place immediately …,” mentioned Ewan. “Just one or two kilometres in, I punctured and was compelled to go for a wheel change, proper when all of the motion began and splits occurred. I used to be approach on the again however finally my teammates helped me in making my approach by the teams and getting again to the primary chasing group.”
That chase in the end made the junction with round 50km to go and Ewan linked up together with his Lotto Dstny teammate Jarrad Drizners, a rider he had additionally relied on in the course of the Australian summer time whereas racing with the nationwide crew. The peloton was closing behind however there was no sitting again and letting the benefit disappear.
“Simply after we thought it could all come again collectively we managed to separate the group once more and be up entrance,” mentioned Ewan. “After all Jarrad Drizners was an enormous assist out entrance and made certain I may get to the dash.”
The cut up left a few dozen riders up the entrance, with Ewan joined by sprinters akin to Merlier, Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan) and Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious) together with general contenders Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep), Luke Plapp (Ineos Grenadiers) and Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious).
The important thing sprinters every had at the very least one teammate alongside them within the group, Drizners persevering with to work on the entrance on the run into the road till Bert Van Lerberghe wound up the tempo to steer out his Soudal-QuickStep teammate Merlier. The Belgian champion went early, and Ewan who was positioned behind him, got here out with sufficient momentum to mount a final second problem, which can properly have been profitable if the road had been even only a few centimetres additional down the street on stage 1.
Ewan will now have until later within the week for a possibility to assert his first WorldTour stage dash victory since final yr’s Tirreno-Adriatico, with stage two of the UAE Tour delivering a crew time trial and stage 3 a summit end atop Jebel Jais. Thursday’s stage 4, nevertheless, indicators the beginning of a run of flat, dash pleasant phases which solely ends with the stage 7 race finale atop Jebel Hafeet.
You inform us who received stage 1 of the #UAETour 😁 pic.twitter.com/8pjiP9w63IFebruary 20, 2023