Caleb Ewan’s face said it all as he crossed the finish line on Stage 3 of the Tour de France and headed straight back to his team bus, jumping off the bike and up the stairs in one swift motion.
He was not gesticulating wildly. In fact, he was still and composed. But he had the stone-faced expression of a man who’s almost gotten used to things going wrong.
It was that kind of season for Ewan, who barely had a clear run in the sprint all year. After having his rear derailleur damaged on Stage 2, he was forced towards the Sønderborg barriers on Stage 3. Moving right, he had to stop sprinting to make sure he didn’t hit not the barriers and does not crash.
“I was definitely in a hurry,” Ewan told reporters after showering and coming to his senses.
“They started sprinting in the middle of the road then the right side was free so I went right but then they all went down the right side.”
The sprint was started when QuickStep-Alpha Vinyl leader Michael Mørkøv pulled away and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) raced for the line with 200 meters to go. He headed to the right of the road approaching the line, but it was Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies) following Van Aert who ended up blocking Ewan’s way.
“I think it started with Van Aert, but then Sagan was a bit more dramatic to the right.”
Ewan was clearly aggrieved and felt he was “inches away” from crashing heavily. He suggested that the deviation from the sprint line might be enough to warrant a penalty.
“If I kept sprinting and didn’t brake then I hit the barrier and of course something would happen. The rules are always interpreted differently. In some races they would be disqualified, in some races they wouldn’t.
“Who knows what the rules are. They sprinted off their line but it’s sprinting. There are always riders who sprint off the line.”
Ewan came to the Tour de France after queuing up again at the Giro d’Italia, but while he won two stages in Italy last year he endured what he described as “the Giro de hell” in May. The Tour de France quickly took the same form.
“It’s frustrating. I feel like I didn’t have the best of luck,” he said.
“Of course I had the legs to win. I started sprinting at the same time as Dylan [Groenewegen]. If we were doing a drag race, we were at similar speeds, so I would have gotten closer. I’m not saying I would have won, but I would have contested.”
Ewan is traveling from Denmark to France with the Cirque Tour on Sunday evening before a rest day on Monday. The race then continues with another potential sprint opportunity in Calais on Tuesday’s Stage 4. Despite all the frustration, Ewan remains optimistic that his luck will turn between here and Paris.
“The positive thing is that my form is good, the team is good, so for sure when my luck turns it will go my way,” he said.
“As long as you are confident with your form, it will have to go my way one day.”