Caleb Ewan tries to see the silver lining after dramatic defeat at UAE Tour

The Australian was edged out by Tim Merlier in photo finish on UAE Tour stage 1.

Photo: Dario Belingheri/Getty Images

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Caleb Ewan is trying to look at the positives after he was beaten by a hair’s breadth to victory on the opening day of the UAE Tour.

The Lotto-Dstny rider made it into the front split after a dramatic day of racing in the Middle East and went toe-to-toe with Tim Merlier (Soudal Quick-Step) into Al Mirfa. After coming out of the Belgian’s wheel when he had already launched his sprint, it looked as though Ewan had the pace to overhaul him.

Ewan pumped his fist in the air after crossing the line, thinking that he had done just enough to score his first road win of the year. However, the win was eventually given to Merlier after a lengthy wait with both riders unable to spot the difference as they watched it on the television.

“I wouldn’t do anything different, really. I was almost fast enough but apparently not quite enough,” Ewan said Obviously, it’s disappointing to miss out on the stage win with such a narrow margin. But the main thing to take away is the fact that I was up there, which shows the good form I’m in and it’s only promising for the next sprint stages this week.”

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The opening stage in the UAE was packed with drama as the peloton was ripped apart by crosswinds. Ewan almost lost his chances at a sprint early on when he found himself in the second group on the road after an unfortunately timed mechanical issue.

Fortunately for the Australian, there were a few other riders in the same boat and there was help in the chase. It took close to 100 kilometers to bring the front group back and Ewan was ready when the race blew up again inside the final 30 kilometers.

“It was a very tough day out with the echelons happening straight away from the start. Only one or two kilometers in, I punctured and was forced to go for a wheel change, right when all the action started and splits occurred. I was way at the back, but eventually, my teammates helped me in making my way through the groups and getting back to the first chasing group,” he said.

“Eventually I made it to the front group after an entire day of full gas racing, where I found my teammate Jarrad. Just when we thought it would all come back together, we managed to split the group again and be up front. Of course, Jarrad Drizners was a big help out front and made sure I could get to the sprint.”

There will be three more chances for Ewan to get a win on the board before the race is done, after Tuesday’s TTT and Wednesday’s uphill finale.

Photo finish: Caleb Ewan (bottom) is edged out by Tim Merlier (top)
Photo finish: Caleb Ewan (bottom) is edged out by Tim Merlier (top) (Photo: RCS Sport)

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