The 26-year-old Australian claimed the eleventh Grand Tour stage victory of his career on Friday with a devastating sprint in Termoli that took his 2021 Giro d’Italia tally to two wins in three days as well as the head of the jersey at points. .But as he is determined to run the Tour de France, Ewan freely admitted that it would not be practical for him to finish the Giro d’Italia, or as he put it, “my legs would die for the next few months” .
Then there’s the Vuelta a España, too, to consider, with Ewan keen to win a second stage in the race where he made his Grand Tour debut in 2015, and took his first stage almost immediately after.
Despite everything he is one of the best sprinters in the world, Ewan admitted on Friday that being a leader is “not something really natural for me, it’s something I’ve had to work on since I turned professional. “
“I was really in the deep end very early on, because I had to start winning races right away, so I didn’t have a mentor or anything to help me become a leader and I didn’t have a mentor or anything to help me become a leader. had to find out for myself.
For all he says leadership is not his strong suit, Ewan’s position as the 2021 Giro d’Italia’s top sprinter seemed more clearly established than ever on Friday as he crossed the line. arrival in Termoli ahead of its rivals. But he said it hadn’t been a simple sprint by any stretch of the imagination.
“It was really difficult. Harder than I expected. I had the impression that there was a real sprint from this climb with 1.5 kilometers to go to the finish, full of gasoline until the end, ”he reflected.
Although his double victory and his tenth place in the opening sprint of the second stage peloton have now propelled him into the cyclamine jersey in the lead, 23 points ahead of stage 2 winner Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix), Ewan said it was practically impossible to stay in the Giro d’Italia until the last stage in Milan.
“My goal remains the same for this year, and I have to do what is best to prepare for the Tour. Unfortunately sprinters’ legs don’t recover in the same way other riders do, and if I finished the Giro now I would. be dying for the next few months.
“This year so far has been very difficult with the weather and a lot of guys are hurting their legs. I have to make sure I don’t go too far because if you do, it’s hard to start over in the next Round. “
When Ewan started winning the Giro stages in 2017, his exceptionally aero position was greatly appreciated, but the Australian said on Friday he no longer exploited that advantage as much as he changed his approach in the sprints.
“To start with, I trained a lot, but if I look at the two sprints I’ve done here, I’m not sprinting as aerodynamically as I used to be,” he explained. “Instead, I didn’t come out until late to do my sprint, so I focused more on the quickness of the speed.
“When I use the aero position, I start my sprints earlier, and that was a way to help me maintain speed. A day like today, when the sprint wasn’t that fast, it was about clearing my legs as fast as possible. “
The end result remains the same, however, and Ewan is now increasingly looking to become the fourth driver in history to complete stages in all three Grand Tours in a single year.
“I think it would be nice, not many people have done it before, I would be the first non-European to do it and since cycling is a world sport, if I can make history because of it I I love to leave a mark in cycling. He said on Friday.
“It’s a tough thing to do now, a lot of guys are doing great things on the bike, but it’s been going well so far.
“However, there are still two difficult Grand Tours to come, and dealing with the way I deliver them after that is going to be difficult. So it’s a challenge, but I’m looking forward to it. “