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Caleb Ewan’s climbing legs open up extra classics program for 2022

Aussie sprinter adds new races to spring schedule in extension of search for classics glory at Milan-San Remo.

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From the Via Roma to the worlds “down under,” Caleb Ewan has got a crowded race calendar for 2022.

Just like before, Milan-San Remo, the Giro d’Italia, and Tour de France are key calling points. But this year, there are two significant extra stops for the Lotto-Soudal speedster – the sprinter-friendly classics and the Wollongong world championships.

“My goals have stayed the same as previous years, with Milan-San Remo one of the bigger ones. But this year I’ll do De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem as well,” Ewan told VeloNews from Tirreno-Adriatico this week.

“They’re also big goals for me and the team. With the Giro and Tour as well, I’ve quite a busy year, going from the start to finish.”

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A career debut at Brugge-De Panne and rare dive into Gent-Wevelgem late March make for a mix-up to Ewan’s tried-and-trusted season script.

Why the shift?

Sponsor-pleasing race-starts on Lotto-Soudal’s home roads make for a “thank you” after the Aussie saw his contract extended through 2024 last summer.

“The classics aren’t usually a part of my program. I usually have a bit of time off after San Remo then start preparing for the Giro,” Ewan said. “But obviously, being in a Belgian team, they want me to race in Belgium a bit more than I do. I think some of the classics will be good for me.”

Ewan added a new string to his bow in recent seasons.

Off-season grinding on the hills of the French Riviera with an eye on San Remo’s Poggio kingmaker saw Ewan climbing with the best of the classics bunch at La Primavera last year and again at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne last month.

“Milan-San Remo was always one of my big goals and obviously, for that, I have to be climbing reasonably well,” he said. “It’s definitely something I’ve worked on and something I feel good at the moment on the climbs.”

That new climbing kick could prove crucial for years to come as Ewan looks to expand his scope beyond the hurly-burly of grand tour bunch sprints.

“I previously didn’t like the classics so much,” he said. “But I think as I’ve gotten stronger, those races are starting to suit me better. So I think it’s definitely something in the future that I’ll be targeting a lot, and I think I’m ready for them.”

Looking for luck in the Via Roma shakeout

Although Ewan’s spring is looking a little busier this season, there’s one main mission on his mind – Milan-San Remo.

Two near-misses at the “hardest race to win” have left Ewan thirsty for a taste of the winner’s prosecco – so much so he pulled the plug early on Tirreno this week in order to prepare for next weekend’s monument.

Ewan looked poised to gallop to victory when a 19-strong bunch tumbled onto the Via Roma last March, only to see Jasper Stuyven’s daring dash torpedo the bunch sprint and leave Ewan consoled with second.

He won’t be doing anything different next weekend.

“What happened last year was out of my control. I’ll just do my own race again this year,” he said. “There’s not much I will change in my approach to the race, and I felt good on the climbs last year. And hopefully, I’ll do the same this year.”