Ewan triumphs in tight stage 11 sprint finish

Australian Caleb Ewan said it was "a dream come true" to break through and post his first career stage win at the Tour de France on Wednesday.

The Lotto Soudal sprinter - competing in cycling's most iconic race for the first time - finished third on stages one and four before being pipped on the line by Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) on stage seven.

Ewan turned the tables on stage 11, though, edging Groenewegen by centimetres on the 167km ride from Albi to Toulouse, with Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step) finishing third.

Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) maintained his 72-second lead on defending champion Geraint Thomas (INEOS) in the general classification standings.

The pair both avoided the carnage that saw Niki Terpstra (Total Direct Energie) forced to abandon the race after a nasty crash.

But the day belonged to Ewan who bided his time before making a late charge up the inside to deny Groenewegen.

"I can't believe it," Ewan told Eurosport. "I've been close in the last four sprints that I've done and my team never lost faith in me. I never lost faith in my sprints. I knew that if everything came together I could be the fastest on the day.

"There's no other race that I've dreamt of winning as a young kid. The Tour de France was so distant from Australia, something that we just watched on TV, [winning is] a real dream come true for me."

Ewan's emotion was on full display after he crossed the finish line, the rider screaming with joy as he was mobbed by Lotto Soudal team-mates and officials.

After a rest day, riders were ready to attack the flat stage. And it was a group of four that made the breakaway, Cofidis pair Stephane Rossetto and Anthony Perez joined by Lilian Calmejane (Total Direct Energie) and Aime De Gendt (Wanty-Gobert).

With just over 10km of the stage remaining, De Gendt stormed ahead, but he was eventually hauled in with 4km to go. Another bunch finish then seemed likely and for Ewan, it represented a chance to make up for his near-misses. It was one the Australian took with both hands.
 

STAGE RESULT

1. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) 3:51:26
2. Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) same time
3. Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step) "
4. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) "
5. Jens Debusschere (Katusha Alpecin) "

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) 47:18:41
2. Geraint Thomas (INEOS) +1:12
3. Egan Bernal (INEOS) +1:16

Points Classification

1. Peter Sagan (BORA-Hansgrohe) 257
2. Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step) 184
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) 174

King of the Mountains

1. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) 43
2. Thomas de Gendt (Lotto Soudal) 37
3. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 30

WHAT'S NEXT?

Riders are back in the mountains on Thursday over a 209.5-kilometre stage from Toulouse to Bagneres-de-Bigorre that contains two category one climbs.

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