Cycling

Aussie Scud flashes home in the Tour finale

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AFTER a slow start to his first Tour de France, Australian Caleb Ewan emerged as the fastest road sprinter in the world. JOHN Trevorrow was there to see him triumph in Paris:

CALEB Ewan blitzed the field to win the sprinters dream prize on the Champs Elysees and take his third stage victory in his maiden Tour de France.

With 250 metres to go Ewan looked blocked and slightly too far back. But his growing confidence was evident and he took to the right while his great rival Dylan Groenewegen went left. The Dutchman thought he had it but Ewan blasted past like a Scud missile and won by half a length.

Caleb has now shown himself to be the fastest road sprinter in the world. And with three stage wins, one second and three third places, the Australian moved into second spot in the prestigious green jersey award behind Peter Sagan   

Caleb was very emotional as he caught up with his family after the finish. “I was told by my team not to go to the right because of the cobbles, but it wasn’t possible to do anything else, and it all turned out OK, finally,” he said.

“When we rolled on to the Champs-Élysées, I almost had tears in my eyes, it was such a surreal feeling. I can’t believe I just won the stage.”

As for the sprint itself, Caleb said that it had been quite chaotic. “I haven’t watched it yet, but I thought I was a bit far back. I was on a pretty good wheel, but it seemed like a lot of riders were ahead of me, I’d maybe left it too late. I came from behind with a lot of speed, and I got around the right-hand side.”

Asked if he now considered himself to be the best sprinter in the world, the young star said: “I’ve proved I’m the best sprinter in this year’s Tour de France. I have to thank my team as well. They helped me in every sprint and to get through in every mountain stage, there were no days off for them.

“They always had to bring me back into contention, and help me 100 per cent, and they did that all through the Tour. I’m really pleased with how they rode.”

Asked what the key differences were between his new team, Lotto-Soudal and his previous team Mitchelton-Scott, that he left at the end of last season to ride the Tour de France, Caleb said,  “The principal change is that I’ve really got a lot of freedom with my team.

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“I did a lot of preparation with this team; I did the Giro, which was so important for me because before the Giro I had not done a Grand Tour for two years.

“The Tour de France started off quite slow for me. It was like I could never get there. But the second half has been unbelievable, I’ve won every sprint in the second half.”

Team Ineos were not as strong as in previous years but still managed to finish one-two with Egan Bernal and defending champion Geraint Thomas. Although Thomas was obviously disappointed at not being able to defend the title, he was genuinely excited for the young Colombian

Bernal again struggled to believe what he had achieved, trying to hold back the tears on the podium.

“Wow! It’s incredible. It doesn’t seem true. I’ve won the Tour de France but I’m struggling to understand it all. I’ll need some days to realise what has happened,” he said.

“I saw my family after the finish and we celebrated together. It’s all incredible.

“It’s the first Tour win for a Colombian and so everyone is so happy. I’m very proud to be the first Colombian to win the Tour. Now I want to go home, celebrate with my family and take it all in,” Bernal said.

Michael Matthews (Sunweb) had a mechanical problem and had to chase hard on the final lap to regain his position. Although he managed to do so, he had to dive pretty deep into the red zone and didn’t figure in the finale.

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Author: John Trevorrow

JOHN TREVORROW is a multiple Australian champion road racer and Olympian who has been doing media commentary at the Tour de France for more than 20 years.

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