Van Aert's sprint came off the back of a long battle between the top sprint teams to position their chosen sprinter the best in the final dash to the line.
The Belgian all-rounder exploded off the back of Max Richeze's leadout for UAE Team Emirates sprinter Fernando Gaviria, immediately putting a gap into the Colombian fast man. Ewan had been positioned a bit further back and when he jumped in reaction to van Aert he was able to come round a number of riders but couldn't quite catch van Aert on the finish line.
"The final straight was really long, so today it was all about the right timing," said van Aert. "I had high speed and so when I saw the 200m sign and maybe a bit before, I thought not to wait and I launched my sprint. I had the speed to maintain it to the finish. I’m really happy."
Ewan appeared the fastest on the day but continued a trend of close-run minor placings from the UAE Tour, where he took a single win alongside a third and twelfth placed finish, on each occasion, Ewan has started from a inferior postion than the stage winner.
"The team did a fine job as they kept me in a really good position in the long and wide final straight, always a tricky thing to do," said Ewan. "It was a really fast run-in to the finish."
"Maybe we were a little too far back. In the end, I couldn’t close the gap. Overall, I am really happy with the team performance but we just lost a little too many positions in the final kilometre to come back. And the cross-tailwind made it a really fast sprint as well.”
Ewan has been spending time preparing for the first monument of the season, Milan San Remo, with the Italian stage race at Tirreno-Adriatico an important stepping stone towards a successful return at the legendary race.
The 156km opening stage of Tirreno-Adriatico was run to pre-race expectations of a mass sprint finish, with a six-rider breakaway mopping up the mountain and intermediate sprint points before the teams of the sprinters shut down the move inside the final 10 kilometres.
Although Alpecin-Fenix and Cofidis were responsible for the majority of the pace-making, when it came to the lead-out, Mathieu van der Poel and Tim Merlier found themselves out of position for Alpecin-Fenix, while Elia Viviani (Cofidis) was well back in the field. Merlier fought through to sixth on the stage behind AG2R-Citroën's Andrea Vendrame and Luka Mezgec (Team BikeExchange), while Gaviria rounded out the podium in third.