Another close one for Ewan sprinting to third on stage three in CaliforniaTue 15 May 2018
A rolling third stage of the Tour of California wound up the coast to finish on the Laguna Seca race track in Monterey with Caleb Ewan taking third place for Mitchelton-SCOTT and now only missing the win to complete a full house at this year’s race.
After finishing second on the opening stage in Long Beach, today’s lumpy parcours did not look particularly suited to Ewan’s sprint characteristics, but the 23-year-old proved in Milan-San Remo that he can climb well, and today it was only the late attacks of eventual stage winner Thomas Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) that stripped Ewan of the chance of sprinting for the stage win.
Tirreno-Adriatico stage winner Adam Yates finished just behind Ewan in the front group and maintains his third place overall ahead of tomorrow’s individual time trial in San Jose.
The longest stage of this year’s race saw numerous breakaway attempts get pulled back by the peloton before a trio of riders were allowed up the road, quickly gaining five minutes on the bunch.
The situation did not change over the first climbs and with the sea wind the only thing affecting the riders until the closing 65kilometres when the peloton upped the ante and started to eat into the deficit.
Over the closing kilometres the race came alive with constant changes at the front as attacks came out of the peloton over the final climbs towards the Laguna Seca Raceway with two riders narrowly ahead of a reduced bunch.
With the duo maintaining around ten seconds onto the circuit, Ewan and Yates were the only two riders left in the chasing group as the race wound down the ramps to the finish line with Skujins Holding on for the win and Ewan winning the sprint behind for third.
Caleb Ewan – Third:
“It was a pretty tough day out there today and I didn’t feel great at the beginning, but my legs got better as the stage went on and the team did a great job of keeping me towards the front over the climbs.”
“Roger Kluge dropped me off really well at the foot of the penultimate climb and from there I managed to go really well as the group started to reduce and made it into the Laguna circuit near the front, but by then we could see we weren’t going to catch the two guys ahead.
“The chase never really got organised cohesively, but I am really pleased that I went so well on the climbs in that group with Adam and after a super-fast run down to the line it was pleasing to win the sprint for third, but the stage win is eluding me here so far and that’s quite frustrating.”
Sport director Matt Wilson:
“It was a bit of a surprise because we knew how hard it was going to be over the climbs leading into the final and we hadn’t really earmarked it as a stage where Caleb would be up there, but he surprises you sometimes when he is focused on doing something and making it happen.”
“He produced an incredible ride when you look at how many guys were left in that group and it was just a shame that those two guys jumped away beforehand because he would have been the favourite to take the sprint out of that group.
“The plan with Adam was to save energy ahead of the time trial tomorrow and save energy and we ticked that box, it’s not his specialty, but he has shown he is going well and we’ll see what happens.”
Tour of California stage three results:
1. Thomas Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) 04:52:47
2. Sean Bennet (Hagens-Berman-Axeon) +0:03
3. Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:08
General classification after stage three:
1. Egan Bernal (Team-Sky) 12:09:08
2. Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) +0:25
3. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:31
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.