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Tour de France

Tour de France: Caleb Ewan left angry with Van Aert and Sagan after sprint finish

The Australian rider says he was squeezed out when Van Aert and Sagan moved to the right during the sprint.

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SØNDERBORG, Denmark (VN) — Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) was left angry and frustrated on stage 3 of the Tour de France after he felt as though his chance at victory was taken away by riders veering from their line in the sprint into Sønderborg.

The Australian said he had nowhere to go after Wout van Aert and Peter Sagan veered to the right, leaving him boxed in by the barriers. In the end, it was Dylan Groenewegen that took the win in a photo finish.

Ewan was about four riders back in the bunch when the sprint opened up with around 300 meters to go. Van Aert was the first to go down the middle of the road and Ewan found himself squeezed into the barriers as Sagan tried to come around the Belgian, who was moving across the road.

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“They started sprinting in the middle of the road and the right side was free, so I decided to go to the right side and then they all moved to the right side,” Ewan said tersely at the finish. “I think it started with Van Aert and then Sagan made a bit more of a dramatic swing to the right.”

Ewan thumped his handlebars as he crossed the finish line, expressing his frustration at the situation. After spending time on the Lotto Soudal team bus to calm down and collect his thoughts, he told the press that he had been forced to brake to avoid a crash.

“I was definitely squeezed,” he said. “If I kept sprinting and I didn’t break and then I ran into the barrier then of course something would happen. The rules are always interpreted differently. Some races they will get disqualified and some races they won’t get disqualified. Who knows what the rules are but they sprinted off their line. That’s sprinting, and there are always riders going off their line.

Asked how close he was to crashing, Ewan responded: “I was probably a couple of centimeters from the barriers.”

It is the second time that Ewan has been unable to get a clean sprint to the line after also finding himself out of position in the stage 2 finish into Nyborg.

“Both times I couldn’t really contest the sprint. It’s annoying and there are limited sprinting opportunities at the Tour so it’s frustrating,” he said. “I started the same time as Dylan and if Dylan and I drag race then we’re similar speeds so I could have gone close to the win. I won’t say that I would have won, but I would have contested it.”

Ewan started the season with big ambitions of targeting Milan-San Remo before turning his focus onto the grand tours of the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. He had to miss Milan-San Remo after falling ill and though he came within millimeters of winning a stage of the Giro, he had to leave without a victory under his belt.

So far at the Tour de France, he has taken a 13th and a ninth place, but he believes that he has the legs to go for a victory. He just needs his fortunes to turn.

“I feel like I just haven’t had the best of luck. The positive thing is my form is really good, the team is really strong, and hopefully, some luck turns and it will go my way,” he said. “The team are riding really good and I’m really happy with that, but I just need some luck in the sprint.

“We know that we don’t have the team here to do a full lead out and the best thing they can do is to put me in a good position in the last k and both times I started in a good position in the last k so I can’t complain about that but in the final few meters something always happens.”