Tour debutant Caleb Ewan (Soudal Lotto) did not mince his words following his second podium result inside the first four stages of the 106th Tour de France. The 24-year-old Australian sprinting sensation, who has already has stacked Grand Tour stage wins from both the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España onto his ever-growing palmarès, finished third on Stage 4 behind Norwegian Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates) and Italian winner Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quickstep) in the bunch sprint finish in Nancy.
However, according to Ewan, a third-place result is not an objective at this year's Tour.
"Obviously, I'm disappointed because I'm not here to get third place," explained Ewan, who posted the same result on the opening stage in Brussels. "I'm here to win, and it's now two sprint opportunities gone, and not a whole lot left.
"I'm happy that I'm thereabouts, and I'm not too far from the win. With a bit of luck, I can get a win."
Ewan has recorded six victories in 2019, including two at this year's Giro and most recently at the ZLM Tour in the Netherlands late last month.
A moment's hesitation cost Ewan a potential victory and day in yellow on Stage 1, and poor placement of the Soudal sprint train inside the final two kilometres Tuesday had Ewan out of position closing in against the barriers despite posting the fastest top speed - 70.2kph - of the day.
"You definitely need luck. We came from a little bit too far back today. I think when you come from so far back with a kilometre to go, you use up too much energy to move up, and then when it's time to sprint, you don't have the legs."
Soudal's general manager John Lelangue echoed Ewan's sentiments on the day's result.
"Everything went wrong in 1.5 kilometres from the end," claimed Lelangue. "[Jasper] De Buyst, Kluge and Ewan lost each other. It's difficult to correct that in the final kilometre. We got Caleb onto Viviani's wheel, but it was too late to contest the sprint.
"Of course we are not satisfied with third place," he continued. "Only first place counts. We'll continue to fight until the Champs Elysées. In the Giro, it didn't work out [in the start], and in the end, Caleb still won two stages. We still have faith in him."
It would be brutal to give up on Ewan after two close-run sprint finishes, but with four to six possible sprints left to contest, and much of the team built around him, there's every chance Ewan will achieve his goal this July.
"It's the biggest race in the world," said Ewan. "It's never going to be easy to win a stage, but I'm confident we can still do it."