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Caleb Ewan swaps UAE Tour for Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne after illness

The Australian sprinter says he's feeling good but decides to cut down his race days after falling ill.

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Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan is changing his racing plans.

The Lotto Soudal rider was due to ride the seven-day UAE Tour at the end of next week but has pulled out of the race due to a “small illness,” his team said. The team didn’t say what had caused Ewan’s illness.

Instead of heading to the Middle East for the second time this spring, after making his season debut at the Saudi Tour, Ewan will stay in Europe for the one-day Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.

“I am feeling very well right now, but it is better not to return immediately with a seven-day stage race,” Ewan said.

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It will be the first time Ewan has raced at the “opening weekend” race Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne since he made his debut in 2016. The Australian finished 15th and inside the chase group behind the breakaway winner Jasper Stuyven.

With the one-day race often coming down to a sprint finish, as well as breakaways, Ewan will be among the favorites for the win. However, the team is planning for multiple eventualities and is not relying on the race ending with a bunch gallop.

“With Caleb Ewan in the team, we have multiple scenarios for the final in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. If it comes down to a sprint, we will have one of the favorites with him. At the same time, we have other riders who can attack on the cobbles or hills,” general manager John Lelangue said.

To make up for some of the lost days of racing at the UAE Tour, Ewan will also take on the three-day Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var at the end of this week.

The rest of his spring calendar will remain the same following his February shake-up with Tirreno-Adriatico his final event ahead of a tilt at Milan—San Remo.

Ewan will head back to Belgium in late March for the Oxyclean Classic Brugge-De Panne and Ghent-Wevelgem. He’s also scheduled to race two grand tours with the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France both on his program.