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Aussie Ewan bags maiden Giro stage, Jungels in pink

© AFP | Australia's Caleb Ewan of the Orica team celebrates after winning the 7th stage of the 100th Giro d'Italia on May 12, 2017

ALBEROBELLO (ITALY) (AFP) - 

Australian Caleb Ewan eclipsed a "difficult" week to snatch his maiden Giro d'Italia stage in Alberobello on Friday, where overall race leader Bob Jungels retained the pink jersey.

Ewan, who won a stage on the Tour of Spain two years ago, came agonisingly close to opening his Giro account for the Orica team in the opening days of the 100th edition.

Pressure was growing on the 22-year-old's shoulders, but the Aussie sprint star known as the 'Pocket Rocket' delivered in style, negotiating a technical finish to power his way to the slimmest of victories on the uphill finish line.

"It's been a little bit difficult for us in the first part of the Giro d'Italia. I came close and the guys worked really hard, so I?m happy to finally win," said Ewan.

"It was a really close sprint. I had to do some work with three kilometres to go so I was a little tired for the sprint. But Luka (Mezgec) did a great lead out, so it was perfect."

Colombian Fernando Gaviria, the winner of two stages on his race debut with the Quick Step team, finished a close second with Ireland's Sam Bennett (Bora) finishing third.

Lotto sprinter Andre Greipel finished fourth, with Jungels among the peloton that arrived seconds later following a largely flat 217 km ride from Castrovillari that saw a two-man breakaway end with 18 km to race.

Jungels remains six seconds in front of Welshman Geraint Thomas (Sky), with British compatriot Adam Yates (Orica) third, at 10secs behind.

Italy's defending champion Vincenzo Nibali is fourth overall, three places ahead of Colombian race favourite Nairo Quintana, of Movistar.

The eighth stage on Saturday is an undulating 189 km ride from Molfetta to Peschici that favours sprinters with uphill finishing abilities.

© 2017 AFP