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Lotto-Soudal to build sprint train for new signee Ewan

The squad announced Wednesday it has signed Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan on a two-year deal.

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Caleb Ewan hopes a dedicated sprint train will help catapult him into the elite of the peloton’s sprinters.

Lotto-Soudal confirmed Wednesday the arrival of Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan to the Belgian team on a two-year deal with the promise of supporting him in the bunch sprints.

Ewan was left off Mitchelton-Scott’s Tour de France squad this year as the Aussie team focused on the general classification. The 24-year-old will take a centerpiece role on the Belgian outfit following the departure of longtime sprinter André Greipel to a French team.

“I think for me the decision to take this path with Lotto-Soudal has been a logical one if you take the emotion out of it,” Ewan said in a press note. “I do feel the path Mitchelton-Scott are now on is one not suited to me but I have nothing but appreciation and respect for the riders and entire organization.”

Ewan was expecting to make his Tour de France debut this year only to see a late-hour rebuttal as Mitchelton-Scott doubled-down on the GC and brought a squad built around Adam Yates.

Lotto-Soudal is firmly committed to building a sprint train to support Ewan and was looking for a rider to take over for Greipel.

“Internally, we have spoken extensively about the era after André Greipel. That moment is now,” said Lotto-Soudal boss Marc Sergeant. “Once again, we opted for a sprinter with potential, just like we did with André in 2011.”

Ewan is hoping the move to Lotto-Soudal will help him evolve to the next step. He’s been successful on the international level, with stage wins in both the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, as well as a second in this year’s Milano-Sanremo. Sergeant said the team is fully committing to Ewan’s perceived untapped potential.

“This is a multi-year plan of natural progress,” Sergeant said, “building a sprint train with guys who have the capabilities to ride the finale of the most important bike races, forming a team with the riders on and off the bike, and creating important routines by racing together consistently.”

Ewan said he believes he can step up to become one of the top sprinters in the peloton.

“We’re in a transition to a next generation of sprinters at the moment,” Ewan said. “There are a lot of good young sprinters that I obviously want to be a key part of and to do that I will need to continue to make further progress — with my new teammates. There’s not one team that currently dominates the sprints, but Lotto-Soudal possesses both the experience and the desire to again build a very strong team for sprints.”

Ewan will finish out the season with Mitchelton-Scott, with likely starts at the BinckBank Tour this month and the Tour of Britain next month. That means he isn’t expected to race the Vuelta that starts August 25 in Malaga, Spain.