Ewan sprints to second for ORICA-GreenEDGE on stage twelve of the Giro d’Italia

Thu 19 May 2016

Multiple Tour Down Under stage winner Caleb Ewan narrowly missed out on his first Giro d’Italia stage win today, finishing in second place after great work from his ORICA-GreenEDGE teammates set up the sprint for the 21-year old Australian.

Ewan was dropped off by lead out man Luka Mezgec 350metres from the line and fiercely contested the sprint with eventual winner Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal).

The big German, known in the peloton as ‘The Gorilla’, left little room for Ewan as the two riders sprinted close to the barriers with Greipel edging the win by a bike length.

“We are getting closer and closer,” said Ewan. “Luka (Mezgec) and the guys did a great job in getting me up there today and you can see that the work we have been putting in is starting to pay off, it was very close.”

“Obviously I’m disappointed not to get the win, it is such a hard race but I’m gaining lots of valuable experience on every stage and Luka and myself are developing really well together.”

Esteban Chaves finished safely in the bunch alongside the other race favourites meaning there was no change on the general classification. Chaves sits in eighth position overall, two minutes 45seconds down on the pink jersey of Bob Jungels (Etixx-Quickstep) ahead of tomorrow's challenging and mountainous stage thirteen.

Sport director Matt White was overjoyed with the performance of the team on a tricky stage and the rapid progression of the sprinting partnership developing between Ewan and Mezgec.

“Really top performance from our guys today,” said White. “We had two goals for the stage which were to keep Esteban (Chaves) safe and not lose any time and then to set Caleb (Ewan) up for the sprint.”

“We achieved both our targets and Caleb was really close in the sprint against one of the most experienced world class sprinters there is.

“The understanding that is developing between Luka (Mezgec) and Caleb (Ewan) is fantastic,” continued White. “They have only had a handful of opportunities to work together and they are really starting to gel.

“The whole team kept their positions superbly today, it was frantic and chaotic going into the last 16kilometres and everyone did a great job protecting Esteban and Caleb. We can’t be anything other than happy with our performance.”

How it happened:

A wet and overcast morning welcomed the riders to the start of stage twelve in Noale near Venice with a pan flat 182kilometres ahead. The race began in front of large crowds turning out to wave off the riders despite the unpleasant weather conditions.

Attacks began to fly as soon as the flag dropped to signal the end of the neutral zone but nothing actually broke away until Daniel Oss (Trek-Segafredo) escaped alone.  After 20kilometres of racing Oss had nearly three minutes on the peloton with two riders in no-man's land trying to bridge across.

Mirco Maestri (Bardiani-CSF) managed to make the jump across to Oss and the pair pushed out their lead to four minutes with around 40kilometres covered. The peloton appeared to be content to allow the duo up the road and duly sat up from their initial chase.

Indeed that was the case but only for the next ten kilometres as the Lotto-Soudal led peloton began to increase their speed yet again and halved the advantage of the two leaders back down to two minutes.

The two-minute gap between the leading duo and the peloton seemed fixed for the next 50kilometres as the race traversed the bland, monotonous countryside of the Po valley. Flat, windy and wet it was certainly not a day for picturesque and dramatic landscapes.

With 65kilometres remaining the two leaders were still out front but now their lead was beginning to fall under the two minute mark, not surprising considering Oss and Maestri had been up there alone in foul conditions for the best part of 110kilometres.

As the race neared the finish town of Bibione the rain started to ease off. With 40kilometres to go the two leaders had a slim advantage of 40seconds on the peloton. The finish comprised of two eight-kilometre circuits of central Bibione with a technical non-linear course that included sixteen tight corners before the line.

Due in part to the earlier rain and also the potential for crashes on the tight and complicated finishing circuit the race judges announced that general classification times for the stage would be taken from the first passage of the finish line. This meant that there would be no available time bonuses over the two closing laps.

Movistar, Etixx-Quickstep and Lotto-Soudal were the three teams leading the chase for the peloton going into the last 30kilometres. Time was now up for Oss and Maestri who were caught with 22kilometres to go.

ORICA-GreenEDGE began to make their presence felt on the first circuit of the finish with Svein Tuft, Sam Bewley and Michael Hepburn muscling their way to the front with Ewan and Chaves safely tucked in behind. Mezgec came through ahead of Ewan on the start of the final lap with Lotto-Soudal again on the front of the reduced bunch.

A crash occurred towards the back of the group leaving around twenty-five riders racing towards the finishing straight. Mezgec was fighting for space with Ewan alongside all the way into the final kilometre. The Slovenian pulled off with 350metres to go leaving Ewan in a great position to fight it out with Greipel.

The Lotto-Soudal rider had the edge in the finale using his size and experience to limit Ewan’s opportunity with the young Australian almost getting around him in the last 100metres before Greipel gained a bike length and held on for the line.

Stage 13 takes place tomorrow and covers 170kilometres from Palmanova to Cividale del Friuli and is a full-on mountain stage. After an initial flat run of 45kilometres the route then covers four consecutive categorised climbs followed by technical descents and undulating rolling roads to the finish.

Giro d’Italia stage twelve results:

1. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) 04:16:00
2. Caleb Ewan (ORICA-GreenEDGE) ST
3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) ST 

General classification after stage twelve:

1. Bob Jungels (Etixx-Quickstep) 49:32:20
2. Andrey Amador (Movistar) 00:00:24
3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 00:01:07
8. Esteban Chaves (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 00:02:45