• Caleb Ewan channels Robbie McEwen in his maiden Tour de France victory (Gettty) (Getty)
Caleb Ewan claimed his first ever Tour de France victory with a gutsy sprint win in Toulouse, the Aussie sprinter bouncing back after he was forced to stop within the final 10 kilometres behind a fallen Soudal Lotto team mate.
By
Cycling Central

18 Jul - 2:12 AM  UPDATED 18 Jul - 6:43 AM

Joy. Relief. Excitement. Adrenaline. 

All the feelings built up over a career of racing flooded out in a scream of primal emotion past the finish line as Caleb Ewan realised he had claimed his maiden Tour de France stage. The win in Toulouse put a string of narrow losses at this year's race behind him, proving himself one of the fastest men on two wheels.

"There's no other race that I've dreamt of winning since I was a young kid," said Ewan. To be honest I can't believe it.

"The Tour de France was so distant from Australia, something we just watched on TV. I can't believe I'm even here and to win a stage is a real dream come true for me."

Ewan came close to taking that coveted victory in previous stages, losing to Groenewegen on Stage 7 by a similar margin to his victory today and narrowly missing the win in other sprint finishes.

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

Stage 11 Winners
Caleb EWAN
Caleb
EWAN
Dylan GROENEWEGEN
Dylan
GROENEWEGEN
Elia VIVIANI
Elia
VIVIANI
Aime DE GENDT
Aime
DE GENDT

The Australian speedster suffered a setback in the final 10 kilometres, forced to stop behind fallen team mate Jasper De Buyst and then expend energy fighting his way back to the front before just managing to get over the top of Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) for a memorable victory.  

"I think with about 10 kilometres to go I got caught behind my teammate Jasper who crashed," said Ewan. "So I was really at the back of the bunch. Roger (Kluge) came back for me and he basically took from the back of the bunch to Groenewegen's wheel in the last few kilometres."

WATCH: Ewan's team mate De Buyst cops elbow, ends up in ditch

Jumbo-Visma took up residence on the front of the pack, leading the way through the narrow and twisting finale. A sharp corner 600 metres from the line strung out the peloton, Ewan perfectly positioned on Groenewegen's wheel as they straightened up on the home straight.  

Groenewegen jumped off a tiring Teunissen, Ewan followed, cutting off Niccolo Bonifazio (Total Direct Energie), before powering around the Dutchman and throwing to the line for a tight victory. 

Earlier, Aime de Gendt (Wanty-Gobert), Anthony Perez, Stéphane Rossetto (both Cofidis) and Lilian Calmejane (Total Direct Energie) jumped away from the peloton from the gun, but with the stage a shorter one and most of the race trending downhill, they were allowed little advantage. Their maximum gap pushed out to three minutes, but Jumbo-Visma, Deceuninck-QuickStep and Soudal Lotto kept the escaped quartet well within hand.

A fall in the peloton with 30 kilometres left to race was bad news for Total Direct Energie's Niki Terpstra, who was left clutching his shoulder, eventually abandoning the race and getting taken to the hospital for treatment. Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) were the big names who also came down in the fall, but quickly remounted and fought back to rejoin the peloton.

WATCH: Richie Porte crashes on Stage 11

De Gendt attacked with 11 kilometres remaining, quickly dropping his former compatriots. He lasted another six kilometres before the sprint trains swept him up. 

The GC battle remained all square as the favourites finished together, the only exception being former yellow jersey-wearer Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), who slipped out of the top ten after falling in the crash that claimed Terpstra.

Tour Leaders
Julian ALAPHILIPPE
Julian
ALAPHILIPPE
Peter SAGAN
Peter
SAGAN
Tim WELLENS
Tim
WELLENS
Egan Arley BERNAL GOMEZ
Egan Arley
BERNAL GOMEZ
View Overall Standings