It has been an up and down Tour de France for Caleb Ewan and his Lotto Soudal team, going from the lows of losing two teammates and Ewan finishing 19th on the opening stage, to the highs of the Stage 3 victory in Sisteron.
Stage 5 into Privas was more of a down moment, with Ewan finishing eighth on the stage after having to come from well behind a strong leadout train from Team Sunweb.
“It’s pretty simple," said Ewan after the stage. "We were just too far back. You can only sprint when you are in a position to sprint.”
"We tried to move up, but obviously it costs energy when you have to move up in the last kilometre."
Cees Bol (Team Sunweb) jumped off the wheel of teammate Casper Pedersen with two hundred metres remaining and sprinted up the inside of the slight bend to the line, but van Aert coming round the outside was too fast. Ewan could only watch from behind and freewheeled the final few metres as he realised the win was out of reach.
"We knew it was going to be a fast sprint with that downhill with 700 metres to go," said Ewan. "It was one of those days where position was everything. Even one or two wheels too far back, you cannot make up so many places because we are sprinting basically as fast as you can go.
"We stuffed it up today but we’ll try again in a few days."
The next opportunity for the sprinters comes on Stage 7, the 168 kilometre course from Millau to Lavaur looking to be an agreeable course for fast men.
The Tour de France continues tonight with a 191-kilometre stage from Le Teil to Mont Aigoual, with the broadcast starting from 9.00pm (AEST) on the SBS ŠKODA Tour Tracker App, then from 9.30pm (AEST) on SBS and SBS On Demand.