Tour de France first-timer Caleb Ewan takes maiden stage victory by a wheel rim

Caleb Ewan’s first career Tour de France stage win came by the narrowest of margins as the Australian edged out Dylan Groenewegen by the width of a wheel rim in Toulouse.

Wednesday, 17th July 2019, 6:59 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th July 2019, 7:59 pm
Australia's Caleb Ewan celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the 11th stage of the Tour de France - over 167 kilometers (103,77 miles) from Albi to Toulouse. PIC: AP Photo/Christophe Ena

The 25-year-old Australian, riding the Tour for the first time, came around Groenewegen after the Dutchman launched his sprint with 200 metres of the 167km stage 11 from Albi remaining and took it by inches. Ewan, who has stage wins in the Giro d’Italia and La Vuelta to his name, has made no secret that a Tour win was what he craved the most.

“I can’t believe it,” he said. “I’ve been close in the last four sprints and my team never lost faith in me and I never lost faith in my sprinting. I knew if everything came together I could be fastest on the day and today I showed that ... Since childhood there is no other race I’ve dreamt of winning. Watching in Australia, the Tour seems so far away – I can’t believe I’m even here but to win a stage is a dream come true.”

Yellow jersey holder Julian Alaphilippe and defending champion Geraint Thomas finished in the pack to ensure no change at the top of the general classification, in which Alaphilippe leads Thomas by 72 seconds as the race heads to the Pyrenees today. Thomas’ Ineos team-mate Egan Bernal finished 13th on the stage to stay a further four seconds behind Thomas in third place.

After Tuesday’s rest day and Monday’s chaotic finish in crosswinds, yesterday’s stage was a much more sedate affair as the peloton followed the Tarn west out of Albi.

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A four-man breakaway including serial escapee Stephane Rossetto of Cofidis was kept on a short leash, with their advantage never quite reaching three minutes, a gap which began to tumble as Toulouse came into view.