Pocket rocket Ewan crowned prince of Shanghai
November 16 th 2019 - 06:16
Australian Caleb Ewan (Lotto–Soudal) claimed the third edition of the Tour de France Škoda Shanghai Criterium in a three-way sprint against Italian Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-SCOTT), the silver medallist in the road race at the recent Worlds, and Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo–Visma), third overall in the 2019 Tour de France, who took the remaining steps on the podium in this same order. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain–Merida) was rewarded for his kick at the four intermediate sprints with the green jersey, while Egan Bernal (Team Ineos), took the combativity prize clad in the yellow jersey of the Tour de France. 25-year-old Caleb Ewan also won the best young rider's white jersey as well as the team classification together with teammates Adam Blythe, Thomas De Gendt and Tim Wellens!
The Tour de France riders, many still recovering from jet lag, had no time to lose on the electrifying 61.2 km course this morning. Focused on the points that were up for grabs as early as the second lap of the circuit, a great number of them were content to eye the others in silence, bathed in the mid-November sun on the start line, while enthusiastic fans waved Criterium flags to cheer them on. The star-studded peloton with 47 riders, 28 of them Chinese, was sent off at 10:10 am local time by Rachel Liu, an influencer with 8 million followers, amid the generous applause of the fans in Shanghai.
Seven men with burning ambitions took off as soon as the flag dropped. Among them, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain–Merida) was especially keen to chase the points classification, introduced this year by adding the points awarded at each of the four intermediate sprints judged on the finish line at the end of laps 2, 6, 10 and 14. It was therefore no surprise to see the Italian climber, who celebrated his 35th birthday a few days ago, take the classification by a narrow margin over Egan Bernal (Team Ineos), clad in the golden fleece, who was cheered on in Spanish by fans holding up "Go, Go, Go Colombia!" signs. The Shark of Messina and the new whiz kid of world cycling, the past and the present of the yellow jersey, spent much of the race riding together. At the second intermediate sprint, the winner of the 2014 Tour de France was narrowly beaten by Yu Junsong (Yunnan Cycling Team), who turned on the afterburners to take the fight to the two champions. The 22-year-old Colombian, whose dimples get more and more marked with every attack, had racked up 6 points so far and knew that the combativity prize was within reach. On the roadside, builders wearing drab helmets left their construction site for a minute to watch the multi-coloured snake roll past.
Meanwhile, the Mitchelton-SCOTT riders were hard at work to put their leader Matteo Trentin in position to fight for the overall win. After taking the fourth and final intermediate sprint, Nibali eased up with 11.6 kilometres to go having met his objectives for the race. The Sicilian, overtaken by the 2019 European champion and his teammate Adam Blythe, nevertheless got himself a place on the podium thanks to a total of 19 points. 9 km before the line, Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo–Visma) finally appeared on the radar with an attack joined by Caleb Ewan (Lotto–Soudal), who had also been keeping his head low until then.
Suspense filled the air as the bell rang to announce the final lap and a three-way sprint featuring the Italian, the Dutchman and the Aussie began to take shape. In the end, no-one could match the sheer quality of the man from Down Under and, four months after claiming stage 21 of the Tour de France on the Champs-Élysées, the pocket rocket took a new victory that also serves as a reminder to everyone who sees his arms raised towards the clear skies that his career is just beginning…