Aussie Caleb Ewan Claims First Tour De France Stage Win
Australian cyclist Caleb Ewan is in disbelief after making a childhood dream come true by snatching his maiden Tour de France stage win by the width of a wheel rim in Toulouse.
The Lotto Soudal rider surged past Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen in a mass sprint to prevail by a few centimetres, with Italian Elia Viviani taking third place, after an 167km ride from Albi to Toulouse on Wednesday.
Riding the Tour for the first time, Ewan timed his effort perfectly to add to his solitary Vuelta a Espana stage win and his three Giro d'Italia victories.
"To be honest I can't believe it," the 25-year-old told CyclingNews.
"I've been close in the last four sprints I've done, and my team never lost faith in me. I never lost faith in my sprint. I knew if everything came together then I can be the fastest on the day, and I think today I showed that.
"I think with about 10km to go I got caught behind my teammate Jasper (de Buyst) who crashed, and I was really at the back of the bunch. Roger (Kluge) came back for me, and he basically took me from the back of the bunch to Groenewegen's wheel in the last few kilometres. Once I had a bit of time to recover, luckily I had the legs to be able to win.
"There's no other race I've dreamt of winning since I was a young kid. I can't believe it. The Tour de France is something so distant from Australia, something we only watched on TV. I can't believe I'm even here, and to win a stage is a real dream come true for me."
On a transition day without big difficulties, the main favourites did not take any risks and there were no significant changes in the overall standings.
But there was a crash about 30km from the finish line that left Niki Terpstra with a suspected collarbone fracture and took him out of the race.
Overall contenders Nairo Quintana and Australian Richie Porte were also involved in the pile-up but got back on their bikes.
Four riders broke free of the pack just after the start outside Albi and at one stage had a lead of three minutes and 27 seconds.
The pack accelerated in the last 60km and the last of the breakaway riders, Aime De Gendt, was caught with 4.5km left.
Ewan perfectly timed his effort after Groenewegen launched the final sprint on the left side of the road. Ewan took the wheel of his Dutch rival and pipped him to the line in a very tight finish.
Porte is currently 3:59 behind Alaphilippe, while fellow Australian Jack Haig is 17:59 off the pace and Michael Mathews is another seven minutes back.
Mathews is the best-placed Australian in the sprint category with 167 points in fourth place, 19 above Ewan and 90 points off leader Peter Sagan, who was fourth on Wednesday. Viviani and Sonny Colbrelli are second and third.
The next moves in the battle for yellow could come on Thursday's 209.5km stage 12, which takes the riders from Toulouse to Bagneres-de-Bigorre via climbs of the Peyresourde and the Hourquette a'Ancizan.