Aussie pocket rocket Caleb Ewan has come ever-so-close to wearing the pink jersey of the 2017 Giro d’Italia after a nail-biting sprint finish overnight.
Austrian rider Lukas Postlberger of Bora-Hansgrohe took the win after making a late attack and managing to hold off a rapidly-approaching Ewan in the final moments of the 206km stage. German sprint star Andre Greipel finished third.
Supported brilliantly by his Orica-Scott teammates, 22yo Ewan was perfectly protected during the picturesque first stage of the historic 100th edition of the race. Spanish Orica-Scott rider Rubin Plaza put in an enormous effort on the front of the main group for much of the stage.
It was a really strong move by Postlberger,” Ewan said.
“It was a hectic finish and sometimes a moment’s hesitation can lose the race. There’s not many opportunities to take the pink jersey so obviously it’s bitter sweet to finish second but there are more days to come and you have to congratulate the move.”
A fast and technical final 5km, a number of riders were caught up in a crash on a 90 degree bend just outside the final 3km. A stiff headwind down the 450m finishing straight did the unsupported sprinters no favours at all. But in the end it wasn’t the wind that kept them at bay, it was 25yo Postlberger, riding his maiden Giro d’Italia, the man who will proudly wear the Maglia Rosa into Stage 2 of the race.
Saturday’s Stage 2 of the centenary Giro takes in a 208km route from Olbia to Tortoli.