Ewan takes Giro stage victory

Caleb Ewan at National Criterium Chapionships in Victoria in January, 2016. Photo: Con Chronis
Caleb Ewan at National Criterium Chapionships in Victoria in January, 2016. Photo: Con Chronis

 After three top-10 finishes in the opening week, former Highlander Caleb Ewan has finally won a stage in the Giro d'Italia.

The Orica-Scott rider took the seventh stage in a sprint finish for his first career Giro victory while Bob Jungels held on to the pink jersey.

Ewan finished half a wheel ahead of Colombian rider Fernando Gaviria to erase memories of his second-place result in the opening stage and ninth and eighth place finishes in stages two and three.

"It feels so good after the first few disappointments I've had. I don't think I've felt so good before," Ewan said.

Ewan also won a stage in the Spanish Vuelta two years ago.

Sam Bennett of Ireland crossed third while standout sprinter Andre Greipel was fourth after the mainly flat but lengthy 224km route from Castrovillari to Alberobello.

Jungels, of Luxembourg, maintained his six-second advantage over Geraint Thomas of Wales. Fellow Briton Adam Yates remained four seconds further back, with most of the overall favourites.

"It's not a disappointment for our team to not win with Fernando Gaviria today, because he did a great sprint and the team helped him," Jungels said.

"It's no shame to lose against Caleb Ewan who is very fast."

The stage began in the Calabria region and three riders - Simone Ponzi, Dmitriy Kozontchuk and Giuseppe Fonzi - broke away from the pack almost immediately. Ponzi quickly had a mechanical problem, leaving Kozontchuk and Fonzi at the front.

The duo swiftly built a lead of four minutes and stayed in front for five hours before being caught by the main pack with 18km to go.

There was little other excitement until Slovenian rider Kristijan Koren attacked on an uphill section shortly after the 5km mark.

Team Sky quickly chased down Koren to protect Thomas's position, then it was whittled down to only a handful of riders contesting the final sprint.

Ewan had the best line coming around the final corner and narrowly held off the charging Gaviria, while Greipel appeared to lack some energy.

"I had to do some work with three kilometres to go so I was a little tired for the sprint," Ewan said.

"But Luka [Mezgec] did a great leadout, so it was perfect."

-Sydney Morning Herald