The 21-year-old admitted he underestimated the final of the 187km test from Beverley to Settle, which doubled as a return to racing following a six-week spell from competition.
“I didn’t realise the finish was going to be so hard in that last kilometre but hopefully tomorrow is another bunch kick,” he said.
“People misjudged the run in a little bit in the last kilometre and I think all the sprinters were left on their own so it got a little bit messy. I got trapped in the barriers once coming into the last corner and then once again in the final straight so I didn’t have a great run but I was pretty happy with how I felt today coming off no racing.”
Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) has ruled himself out of overall contention as he builds toward the Giro d’Italia but still has designs on Saturday’s second stage from Otley to Doncaster.
“I think it will be pretty similar to today,” he said. “Hopefully tomorrow is another bunch kick.”
Groenewegen’s LottoNL-Jumbo team led the peloton within the final five kilometres, pulling back a late attack from overall title hope Steve Cummings (Dimension Data).
Ewan finished the race peppered in mud after what was a bitingly cold and wet day that apparently proved too much for undeniable crowd favourite Bradley Wiggins (WIGGINS), who withdrew during the opener of the three-day event.
“It was a tough day of racing so thanks to everyone who braved the weather and came out to support… I’m gutted not to join you into the weekend but Rio [Olympics] needs to take priority,” he said in a team Instagram post.