Ewan sprints to second on opening stage of Tour of NorwayWed 20 May 2015
Two-time Tour de Langkawi stage winner Caleb Ewan has sprinted to second place on the opening stage of the Tour of Norway today.
The 20-year-old neo-pro was pipped across the line by Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha) after a frantic final chase that saw the day’s breakaway shut down with just 200metres to spare.
“Kristoff would be arguably the best guy in the world right now in a sprint like today,” sport director Matt Wilson said. “The finish was quite deceptive on television; it was quite a difficult uphill sprint.”
“Caleb had a pretty good run in and had Kristoff’s wheel but as soon as he hit out was a bit too strong. Caleb was pretty close there though.”
The late catch prevented the little opportunity to set up sprint trains in the finale today, a situation Wilson said should change tomorrow.
“It shouldn’t have come down to the wire like that,” Wilson said. “It should have been well in control but a couple of little mistakes from a few teams, including us, made it a lot harder than it had to be.
“Tomorrow will suit Caleb a lot better. There is a little climb near the finish that will soften things up a bit and then a flat fast sprint. We will try again, although Kristoff seems to be able to do everything this year!”
In other news, Jens Keukeleire was involved in a crash within the final two kilometres of racing but has escaped any serious injury, just losing some skin. He was given bunch time.
How it unfolded
After 25km, five riders formed the first breakaway of the 2015 Tour of Norway.
On what was a stage expected to come down to a bunch sprint, Antonio Molina (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA), Nikola Aistrup (Riwal Platform Cycling Team), Sebastian Balck (Team Tre Berg-Bianchi), Vegard Stake Laengen (Team Joker) and Oscar Landa (Team Coop - OsterHus) rode to a maximum seven and a half minute lead.
Team Katusha took command of the peloton in support of their fast man Kristoff. ORICA-GreenEDGE also contributed in support of Ewan.
As the gap hovered at just under three minutes with 30km to go, Sean De Bie and Pim Lightart of Lotto-Soudal bridged across to make a lead group of seven.
The attacks began in the front group and resulted in a more select group of De Bie, Lightart, Landa and Stake Laegen entering into the final ten kilometres with a healthy minute and a half gap to the peloton.
A big reaction gave the peloton some hope of a catch, eventually bringing it all back together with just 200metres to spare.