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Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) cut a disconsolate figure as he freewheeled towards his team bus after stage 10 of the Tour de France. This has not been the Tour that the Australian had hoped for and on an intermediate stage that skirted into the medium Alpine mountains he was caught wanting almost as soon as the road pointed upwards.
The sprinter finished last on the road to Megevé, 31 minutes down on stage winner Magnus Cort of the EF Education EasyPost team.
Ewan made the time cut on the stage but with two backbreaking days to come in the Alps, and both of them featuring brutal summit finishes, the signs do not look great for the Lotto Soudal leader.
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He was dropped early on stage 10 and never saw the front of the race again. With one, maybe two, more sprint chances left in the race, Ewan runs the risk of ending his Tour without a stage win or missing the time cut before the race even reaches Paris. So far, this has been a race to forget for the rider with bad luck and mechanicals hampering his chances in the first week.
“There’s not much to say,” a brutally honest Ewan told a huddle of journalists outside the team bus.
“I had really bad legs at the start and got dropped quite early. Then I had some teammates with me, and they thankfully got me through. It was a pretty shitty day. I don’t feel sick. I think that sometimes after a rest-day you never know how your body is going to be and mine wasn’t very good today. I have to have better legs than I had today, otherwise I’m in big trouble.”
At one point it looks as though Ewan might miss the time cut, especially given how early he was dropped by the main field. In the end he even ushered his loyal teammates away, not willing to see them drop out of the race at his expense.
“For a while I was [worried], when I was dropped so early but we got into a pretty good rhythm as a team and then I had quite a lot of time by the last climb so I didn’t have to go my absolute maximum to the top but it wasn’t too close. At the start of the last climb I didn’t know what the time cut was going to be. I didn’t want them to stay with me in case the time cut wasn’t very big but in the end it was about 39 minutes and bigger than we thought. We thought it could have been 32 minutes so it would have been better if four of them didn’t get cut with me.”
Asked if he was confident of coming through the next two stages in the high mountains, Ewan replied: “Not after today but in the Tour, sometimes you have good legs and sometimes you have bad legs. Today was just bad legs, and maybe tomorrow will be better.”
Ewan should make it through stage 11 with the first major climb not coming until the second half of the stage. Stage 12 could be a different story with the race starting with an uphill section that leads onto the Galibier.