Ewan looking for hot start Down Under

The 23-year-old will kick off his 2018 season at the Australian nationals and a pair of international races in his home country.

Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) is looking for a hot start to 2018 to pick up where he left off following another year of progression in the sprints.

The 23-year-old confirmed he will race a solid Australian schedule to open 2018 on home roads. Ewan picked up 13 victories in 2017, his best since turning pro, and is hoping to win the Australian national pro road title for the first time.

The Aussie road race title is complicated because the course is typically quite heavy, with plenty of attacks, and it rarely comes down to a bunch sprint. Ewan has a better chance of defending his national criterium title.

“I’m hoping the [road] race is a little bit easier, with a headwind up the climb to slow the race down, so I can get to the finish for some sort of sprint,” Ewan said. “Wearing the green and gold [national champion jersey] at any point is an honor, and since we don’t do a lot of crits, I haven’t been able to wear the green and gold a lot. It would really be a dream to wear it on the road.”

In what’s no surprise, Ewan will have a busy racing schedule in January on home roads. His first major targets are the Australian national championships (January 3, criterium; January 7, road race) before the WorldTour season opener at the Santos Tour Down Under (January 16-24) and Race Melbourne (January 25).

Orica-Scott has not yet outlined Ewan’s European racing schedule. After winning stages in the Vuelta a España (2015) and the Giro d’Italia (2017), there will be growing expectations for Ewan to make his Tour de France debut.

It will be interesting to see if management decides to take Ewan to the Tour. With the team focusing more on GC via the Yates brothers and Esteban Chaves, the team has progressively shifted its power base toward grand tours. That doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be room for Ewan at the Tour, but it’s obvious he would not have the full support of a sprint train like Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) will see.

In three grand tour starts, Ewan has won two stages and has taken early exits as planned. For 2018, Ewan will be looking to further consolidate his position in sprint stages and sprint-friendly, one-day races across the WorldTour calendar.

At the Tour Down Under, Ewan will face a deeper sprinter field than last year, when he won four stages and the points jersey. Three-time world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) have already confirmed.

“The sprint field is a lot better than it’s been in the past two years, so it’s definitely going to be challenging,” Ewan said. “There are probably only three stages that really suit the sprinters in the 2018 Tour Down Under.”