Mitchelton-Scott is leaving Aussie sprinter Caleb Ewan at home as it brings an eight-man squad committed to GC captain Adam Yates’ bid for the Tour de France podium.
Ewan couldn’t hide his disappointment at the Tour snub in a scathing message on Twitter:
Devastated is an understatement of how I feel about @MitcheltonSCOTT’s decision to leave me at home this July. I was on track to being more than ready for my TDF debut. So much hard work has gone into this from my sprint team and I to be ready for our big goal this year.
— Caleb Ewan (@CalebEwan) June 21, 2018
The surprise move not to bring Ewan for his highly anticipated Tour debut underscores the team’s growing commitment to the GC and its confidence that Yates, who was fourth overall in 2016, can challenge for the Tour’s final podium next month.
“There have been some really tough decisions made this week, the toughest in our organization’s history,” said sport director Matt White. “We have 12 riders who are ready to go, but based on our performances this season we believe we have selected the best group who can deliver our objectives at the Tour de France next month.”
White said the team’s growing commitment to three-week grand tours and the challenging first half of the 2018 Tour parcours were contributing factors to the team’s decision to bring its full firepower to back Yates.
There are rumors that Ewan might leave the organization next season in part because of the team’s growing commitment toward the GC, but that was not mentioned as a reason why the Aussie sprinter was left at a home.
New rules limiting team rosters to eight riders during grand tours are also putting teams in a pinch. Other teams with strong GC candidates will find it difficult to bring a sprinter as well.
With its team selection Thursday, Mitchelton-Scott confirmed it is fully committed to try to push Yates onto the Tour podium in Paris.
“This year’s Tour de France is almost a race of two halves — the unpredictability of the first half and mountains of the second. We have selected a diverse team, and one that can handle any situation that may be thrown in our path,” White continued. “Adam’s performance continues to improve in leaps and bounds. He has had major setbacks this year and still his performances have been impressive, to say the least.”
The team will bring some brawn, with Australian riders Luke Durbridge, Mat Hayman, and Michael Hepburn and New Zealand’s Jack Bauer. That quartet will help protect Yates in the flats and will serve as a powerful base for the stage 3 team time trial.
Damien Howson and Mike Nieve will provide support in the mountains, with Daryl Impey playing an all-rounder role as road captain.
Already with podium finishes at the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España in 2016, Mitchelton-Scott hopes to add the Tour de France to its run.
“I’ve got a great team focused around giving me the best opportunity to ride a strong GC, whether that’s on the flats or in the big mountain stages,” Yates said. “We have great strength and depth, which means we are able to perform under all circumstances.”
Mitchelton-Scott for the Tour de France