Preview Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic
Sports director Bart Leysen looks ahead.
Caleb Ewan delivered Lotto Soudal a second stage victory at the Tour de France today! Having already finished four times inside the top three during the past ten days of racing, the Australian pocket-rocket sprinter now took his maiden stage victory at the Tour! After another tight sprint between Groenewegen and Ewan, it was the Lotto Soudal rider who threw his bike to the line to take the stage win in Toulouse. A few days after his 25th birthday, Caleb Ewan is now part of a select group of riders who were able to win a stage at the Giro, Tour and Vuelta. Also Tim Wellens could step on the podium today; the Belgian received his ninth polka dot jersey.
Right after the start in Albi, four riders attacked but the peloton did not grant Calmejane, Aimé De Gendt, Perez and Rossetto more than three minutes advantage. A strong Maxime Monfort was one of the riders to lead the peloton all day long. At four kilometres from the line, Aimé De Gendt was the final escapee to be caught. A bunch sprint would take place in the streets of Toulouse.
During the very finale, Caleb Ewan was caught up behind a crash of teammate Jasper De Buyst, but it was Roger Kluge who brought Caleb Ewan back to the head of the peloton. Groenewegen started his sprint early but Ewan reacted with a powerful acceleration. Once again, it was a close sprint between the Dutchman and the Australian but this time, Caleb Ewan pipped Groenewegen to the line and took his first stage victory at the Tour de France.
Caleb Ewan: “My first dream was to become a professional cyclist, the second one to ride the Tour de France and the ultimate wish was of course to win a stage. To this day, I was able to do all bunch sprints but I just missed the victory a couple of times. If you’re able to take the victory at the fifth attempt, the joy, relief and all the other different words I can come up with are immense and very intense. The team always kept believing in me and I also never stopped believing in the team and in my own speed. Everything - like my timing and positioning - just needed to fall into place one day and that was the case today. The final part of the race was quite chaotic, but only the final result is what matters. What didn’t succeed the past sprints, happened today. I can’t describe how happy I am.”
“It takes a lot of character to - as a rider - travel from Australia to Europe and to cover that entire path with the ultimate goal of reaching the absolute top of cycling. With this stage win, I think I made that step. I have to thank a lot of people within my entourage. Leaving for the Tour de France when your new-born daughter is still at the hospital really wasn’t an easy moment but the team supported me as good as possible. The team kept the pressure away but as a sprinter, you are of course not satisfied with only second and third places. It is true that I had a long conversation with sports manager Marc Sergeant yesterday. He - better than anyone - understands the art of keeping the pressure off someone and giving you the feeling to keep the faith until the very last day.”