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Tirreno-Adriatico: Caleb Ewan and walking the tight rope ahead of Milan-San Remo

The Australian sprinter is intent on finally being first across the line down the Via Roma, and that means he won't be taking any chances this week.

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SOVICILLE, Italy (VN) — With Milan-San Remo less than two weeks away, Caleb Ewan is hoping to walk the tight rope this week at Tirreno-Adriatico.

The Australian sprinter at Lotto-Soudal is betting everything on winning down the Via Roma once and for all.

Twice second in the so-called “sprinter’s classics,” Ewan is honing his form this week on the sharp hills of Tirreno that are ideal training for the Italian monument.

So what’s bigger? Winning or honing?

“Going into one of my biggest goals it’s important to me to get a win this week, but as long as my feelings are good, I am going to be happy,” Ewan told VeloNews. “That will give me confidence going into next week.”

Also read: Can Caleb Ewan finally win Milan-San Remo?

Of course, winning is even better.

On Tuesday, the stars did not align for Ewan. He was out of position on the fast, narrow run into Sovicille after a lumpy finale. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) took the win, and Ewan was never in the frame for the victory, crossing the line 15th.

“There are a lot of good sprinters here and a lot of good sprinters in Paris-Nice,” Ewan said. “It’s the last preparation week for Milan-San Remo. So the sensations are the most important thing.”

Also read: Milan-San Remo, snoozer or sizzler?

So far in 2022, Ewan is confirming he’s one of the most consistent winners in the bunch. Two wins came early before finishing second to arch-rival Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.

“I feel like every year, the sprint level is going higher and higher. There are more and more guys who are able to compete for the sprint wins,” Ewan said. “I feel good, and I’ve felt good in all the sprints I’ve done, but there are always a lot of quick guys in every race who are hard to beat.”

The road to Milan-San Remo goes through Tirreno-Adriatico

Caleb Ewan wins opening stage of the Saudi Tour
Caleb Ewan wins opening stage of the Saudi Tour (Photo: Tim de Waele / Getty Images)

Some riders prefer Paris-Nice, others opt for the typically warmer weather at Tirreno-Adriatico. Nearly all the top favorites for San Remo will be racing this week in either France or Italy.

“It’s important not to go too deep this week, because if you go too deep, you might not be able to recover in time for San Remo,” he said. “You really have to gauge your effort all and not go too deep.”

That means not pushing hard when he doesn’t have to. Like in Monday’s opening time trial, Ewan floated in a dead last.

“It’s about keeping the form, more than anything. It will be a tough week, I will try to get through it as easy as possible,” he said.

Ewan knows what to do next. After Tirreno wraps, he heads home to Monaco for a few days to recover, and ride up and down the Italian Riviera a few times to refresh the mind on how the Cipressa and Poggio look, before heading to Milan on Thursday.

“I don’t go there too often, but I know the climbs quite well,” he said of the San Remo finale. “I’ve lived in Monaco now eight years, so I’ve done them a lot of times. They’re not my every day training days.

“Race speed is a lot faster and a lot harder, so so long as you know the roads and the descents, that’s the key.”

So far, Ewan has twice been second — in 2018 and again in 2021 — to breakaway efforts that have pipped the peloton.

This year, Lotto-Soudal is intent on bringing Ewan to the line without any spoilers up the road. He has the confidence and the form to pull it off. Now he needs to deliver.