Ewan sprints to fourth on stage seven after a textbook lead out from Mezgec

Fri 13 May 2016

Vuelta a Espana stage winner Caleb Ewan sprinted to fourth place on stage seven of the Giro d’Italia today after excellent work by ORICA-GreenEDGE teammate Luka Mezgec delivered the 21-year-old Australian right to the front of the bunch with only 175metres to go.

The multiple Tour Down Under stage winner had battled hard throughout the long and arduous stage and was unfortunate to lose out to stage winner Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) in the last 20metres of the sprint.

Colombian Esteban Chaves sits in eleventh position just outside the top ten going into the eighth and ninth stages over the weekend, with the real test of the high mountain stages to come next week.

Sport director Matt White was pleased with the continued development of Ewan over the course of the race.

“It was superb work from Luka (Mezgec) in the final,” said White. “He used all of his experience and speed to deliver Caleb (Ewan) into a good position on the home straight.”

“Unfortunately Caleb just ran out of steam over the last few metres but everyday is more valuable experience for him and these situations will continue to help his development.

“The finish was really fast and chaotic,” explained White. “There were many tight turns and the bunch split apart in numerous places. Esteban (Chaves) ended up losing a few seconds at the finish but we are still in a more than decent position going into the second week of the race.”

“Tomorrow is more than likely going to be a day for the breakaway, there’s a tough climb at the end of the stage which will probably be too much for the sprinters.”

How it happened:

A sunny day in picturesque Sulmona welcomed the riders to the start of stage seven before heading out towards the first climb of the day which came after only 20kilometres of racing.

Three riders, including Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff), broke away within the first ten kilometres and had a growing lead of over a minute as they reached the category two climb Le Svolte di Popoli. The peloton split into three different groups on the climb with around forty riders forming the front group chasing after the trio of leaders.

The three leaders were caught by the first chasing group 35kilometres into the stage. The second group contained most of the sprinters and were around one and a half minutes behind. The lumpy profile of the stage was going to make for a difficult day for the fast men and they soon found themselves further down on the lead group. Over two minutes separated the field after 45kilometres of racing.

Attacks were beginning to spring from the head of the race as the rain started to fall heavily near L’Aquila. Stefan Kung (BMC) managed to develop an advantage of around 30seconds upon breaking clear from the front group and embarking on a solo mission on the wet rolling roads.

Five more riders bridged across to Kung and the group of six forged on ahead as the peloton began to ease off and allow the breakaway to form with the second group still attempting to regain contact with the peloton.

The six leaders had over two minutes on the peloton when the field finally merged behind them returning the race once more to a large single peloton and an advanced breakaway group with 120kilometres to go.

The situation stayed the same for the next 50kilometres with the six escapees maintaining an advantage of around three minutes over the main field. With 75kilometres left to race Javier Moreno (Movistar) crashed heavily and looked to be out of the race, the peloton was now led by Lotto-Soudal who were gradually reducing the advantage of the leaders.

Damiano Cunego (Nippo-Vini-Fantini) attempted to bridge across to the six leaders with 50kilometres to go and succeeded in gaining 40seconds on the peloton but could not reach the leaders. Kung attacked alone off the front of the lead group with 33kilometres left to race and began to try and develop a fresh advantage.

Team Cannondale were trying to bring the race back together again but Kung had other ideas, continuing to time trial his way towards the finish town of Foligno. Despite a valiant effort, Kung was caught with seven kilometres left to the finish and the field was now shaping up for a bunch sprint through the technical parcours of the finish.

Lotto-Soudal were attempting to monopolise positions on the front of the bunch before Mezgec muscled his way through with Ewan tucked tightly onto his wheel. The Slovenian lead out man used all of his speed and experience to deliver Ewan into the final hundred metres but it was Greipel who took the stage win with Ewan placing fourth and just missing the podium.

Tomorrow's stage eight heads north for 186kilometres from Foligno to Arezzo. A long and rolling stage with a difficult climb, the Alpe di Poti coming in the final 20kilometres before a technical descent then slight incline to the finish.

Giro d’Italia stage seven results:

1. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) 05:01:08
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) ST
3. Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) ST
4. Caleb Ewan (ORICA-GreenEDGE) ST 

General classification after stage seven:

1.  Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) 29:23:23
2.  Jakob Fugslang (Astana) 00:00:26
3.  Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) 00:00:28
11. Esteban Chaves (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 00:00:53