In the noble tradition of the very best Grand Tour sprint stages, today's race from Notaresco to Termoli on Italy's Adriatic coast unfurled with all the languidity of a house cat stretching in a patch of afternoon sun. The slow, deliberate movement – the flirtation with the shoreline before turning back inland – it all added a sense of immaculate anticipation. An air of expectation that was met and exceeded by an unbeatable Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal).
The Australian entered the final three kilometres with plenty of teammates around him, but a rapid series of sharp turns and roundabouts quickly decimated his train, and that of many of the other sprinters in contention. He was left with only Jasper De Buyst for assistance when Francesco Gavazzi (Eolo Kometa) fired off an opportunistic attack.
The Italian's move was matched and covered by Daniel Oss (Bora-Hansgrohe), who acted like a dead weight, anchoring the Eolo rider and preventing him from stealing a march on the sprinters – who had long waited for their moment across 181 kilometres of flat coastal terrain. Gavazzi quickly gave up his attack and for just a second Oss looked like he might continue on instead, only for the pair to be caught at 600m from the line.
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Then came a sharp left-hander, Ewan still shepherded by De Buyst, took the turn in fourth position. At 500m, Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) swung across Ewan's path, from the extreme left of the road to the right with a big injection of speed.
The Colombian, who has struggled to make an impression on the race's sprints so far, had decided to change his tactics, with the hope of springing a surprise on the field – perhaps relying on the soporific nature of the preceding four hours' racing to dull their reactions. Unfortunately for Gaviria, Ewan was more than equal to the challenge. De Buyst pulled off and Ewan went immediately for the UAE rider's wheel. In 200 metre he had caught him, after another 100 he was in front. By the line, Ewan was more than a bike length ahead of the next finisher. Davide Cimolai (Israel StartUp Nation) rode Ewan's wheel to second place, with Tim Merlier (Alpecin Fenix) in third spot. Gaviria's gamble was only good enough to land him seventh.
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British hope for the general classification, Hugh Carthy (EF Education Nippo) crossed three minutes down on Ewan, effectively tumbling out of the provisional top ten. The Prestonian encountered a mechanical issue with his bike in the final three kilometres and it is expected that he will be reinstated to his place in the GC later today. The maglia rosa remains on the shoulders of Attila Valter (Groupama FDJ). Ewan springs ahead of Merlier in the ciclamino jersey competition, although he says he has no plans to finish the race.
After yesterday's crash involving a Team BikeExchange team car and Pieter Serry, sports director Gene Bates has been sent home from the Giro.
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