Sport Ewan hits back at Merckx Giro criticism
Australian cycling targets more Giro glory
The 2020 Giro d'Italia was a landmark tour for Australian cycling - and Jai Hindley, Caleb Ewan and Team BikeExchange hope the 2021 edition will prove another.Last year's event, delayed until October because of the pandemic, saw Hindley wear the leader's pink jersey going into the last time trial stage before he missed out on overall victory to Britain's Tao Geoghegan Hart by an agonising 39 seconds.
Australian star Caleb Ewan has hit back at cycling legend Eddy Merckx and other critics who have criticised him for abandoning the Giro d'Italia after just a week.
The Sydneysider responded that he "was more disappointed than anyone" to have to pull out of the race after Merckx had earlier on Monday accused him of a lack of professionalism for his early abandonment.
Ewan withdrew from the three-week grand tour during Saturday's eighth stage, accompanied only by a brief statement from his Belgian team Lotto Soudal, who tweeted that he had suffered pain in his knee.
Caleb Ewan sprints to Giro d'Italia victory on chaotic fifth stage as overall contenders crash out
Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan claimed a thrilling stage victory at this year's Giro d'Italia on a day marred by serious crashes involving a number of pre-race favourites.There were several crashes in the final 15 kilometres of the pancake-flat stage from Modena to Cattloica in Italy's north-east, the most serious involving one of the pre-race favourites, Mikel Landa, who was taken away in an ambulance.
Less than 24 hours before, though, Ewan had produced another brilliant sprint to win his second stage of the tour in the space of three days.
The Sydneysider's withdrawal, while wearing the points leader's jersey, did not impress Belgian Merckx, the man widely thought of as the greatest professional cyclist of them all.
In the Het Nieuwsblad newspaper on Monday, the record 11-time grand tour winner Merckx wrote: "What Caleb Ewan did also bothers me enormously.
"I find his statement shows a total lack of professionalism and lack of respect for the Giro and the sport of cycling.
"He deserves a sanction: take away all his bonuses. Former Tour boss Felix Levitan would have said, 'you won't be at this race next year'."
Former rider Axel Merckx, Eddy's son, was also quoted in the article as saying: "Rules are rules – you can't take away bonuses. But to just leave, without any real proof of knee pain, that's a total lack of respect towards the organisation."
Australian Team BikeExchange boss expelled from Giro after hitting rider Pieter Serry with team car
The team car of Australia's Team BikeExchange ploughs into the back of Belgian rider Pieter Serry on the final ascent of the sixth stage of the Giro d'Italia, resulting in team boss Gene Bates being excluded from the race.The Deceuninck-Quick Step rider was 3 kilometres into the final climb of the day when the BikeExchange car inexplicably ran into the back of him with 12km to go in the stage.
The criticism triggered a swift response from the 26-year-old Ewan later on Monday as he confirmed on Twitter that he did have an injury and said: "To the people who think I've disrespected the race, I'm sorry you feel that way.
"If you saw the hard work and dedication I've put into my preparation to honour this race and perform at my best, I'm sure you wouldn't think the same. I'm more disappointed than anyone.
"Honestly, it'll be hard to watch the sprint today at the Giro d'Italia and also on the 13th stage as I felt my form was coming into its best."
Ewan had said all along that he would not complete the whole race because he didn't want to exhaust himself in his bid to win three stages at all three grand tours in a single season - the Giro, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana.
"Thanks to all the people sending nice 'get well soon' messages," Ewan also wrote.
"I've done some stuff with my positioning to help the knee pain I've felt since the start of stage 8. Once it's completely gone, I'll resume my training to prepare for the Tour."
The Tour de France begins in Brest on June 26.
Bernal falters, Yates back in Giro hunt .
Australia's Team BikeExchange leader Simon Yates has exposed some unseen weaknesses in Giro d'Italia leader Egan Bernal while moving back into third place.On an afternoon which saw Irishman Dan Martin complete his set of grand tour stage wins with a bravura victory on stage 17, Yates, the British leader of Australia's Team BikeExchange, roared back into contention after a late attack on the climb to Sega di Ala..