Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) grabbed his second stage win of this year's Giro d'Italia on Friday, showing great strength in the uphill sprint to the line in Termoli. The Australian had to show his hand when Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) made an early move, first chasing down the Colombian and then launching his own sprint for the line.
Ewan was closely marked by Davide Cimolai (Israel Start Up Nation) but the Italian was unable to hold his wheel and had to settle for second. Stage two winner Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) was third.
The day featured a long-range move by Umberto Marengo (Bardiani-CSF), Simon Pellaud (Androni Giocattoli) and Mark Christian (Eolo Kometa) but the sprinters' teams limited their gains and then hauled them back 17 kilometres from the line.
Ewan said that teamwork from the Lotto Soudal squad was crucial in what was the fifth Giro stage win of his career, helping conserve energy in the final 10 kilometres.
“They did a really good job. I told them the most important point for me was the start of the climb. If I got a free run through there and a good run up the climb, then I would save a lot of energy. But if I had to come from far back and move up, it would have cost me a lot for my sprint.”
He said that Gaviria’s early jump ramped up the pressure on him. “If it was anyone else you probably would have waited a little bit, but you know when he goes he has got the strength and the speed to hold it,” he said. “I had to do it tactically quite good - I didn’t want to accelerate super-hard at the start, I left the gap a little bit and then around 200 metres to go I had a bit of a gap to run at him and I really accelerated.
“My legs were absolutely burning at the end. I was basically sprinting from 450 metres to go, and it was a slight uphill. It was a tough one.”
The rest of the bunch finished in the same time as Ewan, including Irish general classification Dan Martin (Israel Start Up Nation) and the overnight leader Attila Valter (Groupama - FDJ). Valter retains the pink jersey and remains 11 seconds clear of closest challenger Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck - QuickStep), while Martin stays ninth, 47 seconds back.
Nicolas Roche (Team DSM) finished 175th on the stage, three minutes and 12 seconds behind. He was required to work hard for his squad and then sat up to conserve energy. "My work is really important," he told The Irish Times about his role in this race. "Every day I'm busy, but no glory. Hopefully in the next two weeks I might get a chance to get up the road. I love a good breakaway."
Giro d’Italia (WorldTour)
Stage 7, Notaresco to Termoli:
1 Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) 181 kilometres in 4 hours 42 mins 12 secs
2 Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-up Nation)
3 Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix)
4 Matteo Moschetti (Trek-Segafredo)
5 Andrea Pasqualon (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux)
6 Fernando Gaviria Rendon (UAE Team Emirates) all same time
34 Dan Martin (Israel Start Up Nation) same time
175 Nicolas Roche (Team DSM) at 3 mins 12 secs
General classification after 7 stages:
1 Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ) 26 hours 59 mins 18 secs
2 Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) at 11 secs
3 Egan Bernal Gomez (Ineos Grenadiers) at 16 secs
4 Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) at 24 secs
5 Louis Vervaeke (Alpecin-Fenix) at 25 secs
6 Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) at 38 secs
9 Daniel Martin (Israel Start-up Nation) at 47 secs
65 Nicolas Roche (Team DSM) at 28 mins 59 secs