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After just eight stages, the Aussie sprinter handed in his bib number and quit the race after dazzling with two sprint wins.
Team Lotto-Soudal later explained that Ewan was suffering knee pain. Sensing a planned early exit, many in the socialsphere cried foul.
Writing in a tweet Monday, Ewan is sticking to the script.
“To the people who think I’ve disrespected the race, I’m sorry you feel that way,” he wrote. “If you saw the hard work and dedication I’ve put into my preparation to honor this race and perform at my best I’m sure you wouldn’t think the same. I’m more disappointed than anyone.”
Ewan has set his sights on a bold plan to win a stage at all three grand tours this season, and the 26-year-old looked sizzling in his stages 5 and 7 victories.
Critics suggested that Ewan’s departure was a lazy lack of respect for the race – he’d checked the box of getting a win, so now it was time to head home. Others pointed out that the Aussie had been spotted changing his shoes and fiddling with his cleats immediately before the stage 8 rollout – and that knee pain a widely recognized consequence of a misaligned shoe-plate.
“Thanks to all the people sending nice “Get well soon” messages. I’ve done some stuff with my positioning to help the knee pain I’ve felt since stage 8,” Ewan wrote. “Once it’s completely gone I’ll resume my training to prepare for the Tour.”
Ewan emerged as by far the fastest in the bunch with his searing show in the Giro’s opening week.
Whether he planned to leave the race early or not, Ewan’s absence will make ripples in the racing to come, and the likes of Giacomo Nizzolo, Tim Merlier, Peter Sagan, and Dylan Groenewegen will be eyeing their opportunities.
“Honestly it’ll be hard to watch the sprint today at the Giro d’Italia and also on the 13th stage as I felt my form was coming into its best,” Ewan wrote.
Just a short message on my departure from the giro pic.twitter.com/AwSR8AAN01
— Caleb Ewan (@CalebEwan) May 17, 2021