Ewan strikes again at the Tour de France!
Second stage victory for Ewan in his first Tour!
The curtain fell on the five-day ZLM Tour with a flat stage between Eindhoven and Tilburg today. The fast guys battled for the victory today and after a hectic finale, it was Caleb Ewan who beat the German Walscheid and the Dutch rider Groenewegen with an impressive acceleration! Mike Teunissen wins the ZLM Tour, Jasper De Buyst finishes fourth overall. Rasmus Byriel Iversen could step onto the podium to pick up the young rider’s jersey.
Three escapees animated the final stage but the peloton - led by Jumbo-Visma - did not grant the three up front a lot of advantage. That way, another bunch sprint was almost certain to happen. In the finale, Jelle Wallays escaped the peloton and rode to Reinders - the last remaining escapee of the day - but after a brave effort, they were reeled in at around six kilometres from the finish. Only moments later, Nikolas Maes attacked but he was also caught. Eventually, the sprinters battled for the win in Tilburg and it was Lotto Soudal rider Caleb Ewan who proved to be the fastest today. With an impressive sprint, the Australian beat the German Walscheid and the Dutch rider Groenewegen. This victory gives Ewan a confidence boost towards his next race: the Tour de France.
Caleb Ewan: “I knew that I was building my form through this ZLM Tour, which was the first goal for this race. I did a little bit of everything in this five-day race. I did a good time trial in the start, a few sprints and some attacks. Actually, the legs felt pretty tired today but luckily, I had something left in the end. Of course, it’s always good for the confidence to get a win. In the finale, we were trying to make Jumbo-Visma work harder as first Jelle Wallays and then Nikolas Maes attacked. So the goal was to make them use up their guys so it wouldn’t be easy for them to do a normal lead-out. I think we successfully did that because they were running out of guys and had to chase really hard during the final local lap. It was a different tactic but in the end, it worked.”
“We were also running short of guys but Roger Kluge and Jasper De Buyst kept the speed high so it was easier for me to jump on the wheel of Groenewegen. Then I knew, once we got through the chicane with 200 metres to go, I needed to start my sprint, so that’s what I did. I came around him with some good speed and could take the win. “
“It is always good to win a sprint before a big goal. I had the same in the Tour of Turkey, which gave me confidence going into the Giro, where I took two nice stage victories. It’s good to get that winning feeling again and it should give me some confidence for the first part of the Tour.”
Lotto Soudal also raced on Belgian soil today in the Elfstedenronde. It was Tim Merlier who sprinted to victory as he beat Jakobsen and Philipsen. Jens Keukeleire was the first Lotto Soudal and finished fourteenth.