Australia’s cycling star Caleb Ewan in action during the Tour Down Under.
Australia’s cycling star Caleb Ewan in action during the Tour Down Under.

‘Annoyed’ Ewan eyes Great Ocean Road Race

CALEB Ewan has set his sights on the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race still irritated over his Tour Down Under disqualification.

Australia's premier sprinter was controversially denied his first WorldTour win for new team Lotto Soudal on Stage 5 of last week's race when he tangled with Belgian Jasper Philipsen in the final metres.

Ewan was penalised for an "irregular final sprint" and relegated from first to last after his successful attempt to hold his position was deemed excessive.

"I'm pretty annoyed with it. I spoke to Jasper … he wasn't in the wrong, but he tried to take the wheel off me and it's normal for me to defend the wheel. I'm not just going to let him get on the wheel I'm already on and he knows that," Ewan said.

"He even said to me it was a fair sprint in his eyes as well. That's just what happens in sprinting, everyone's close and no one wants to lose position and there's barging going on.

"There's much worse happening earlier in the crosswinds, but maybe it couldn't be seen on TV."

Caleb Ewan celebrates his stage win before being disqualified.
Caleb Ewan celebrates his stage win before being disqualified.

Ewan, who left Australian team Mitchelton-Scott in the off-season, admitted he was under enormous pressure to secure a maiden triumph with Lotto Soudal.

"It's almost like the first win is the hardest one to get. We came close on Stage 2 and didn't quite get there and there was a whole bunch of pressure on me in that last sprint stage to get the result and I really felt it," he said.

"I had a lot of pressure on myself and I really wanted a win there before leaving Australia and I thought I had it for 10 minutes."

But Ewan said his fresh start with Lotto had still gone "better than expected" and he will line up at Thursday night's Race Melbourne criterium at Albert Park before hitting Sunday's Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race for the first time in three years.

In 2015 he was caught out in the crosswinds before the gruelling finishing circuits and in 2016 he suffered from a crash.

Four ascents of the tough Challambra Crescent is the obvious hurdle Ewan needs to clear to be in contention and he admitted his fortunes were in the hands of others.

Caleb Ewan in the peloton during the Tour Down Under.
Caleb Ewan in the peloton during the Tour Down Under.

"It really depends how they race up (Challambra) because if they go cruisy the first few times I can really squeeze to get over it the last time," he said.

"If I'm feeling good and the race goes the way I want I should have a good shot at being there for the win. But if they race it full gas from the time we hit the circuits then it turns into a much harder race."

Ewan, 24, will race the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France this year in a season set to present him with more opportunity.

"It'll be good to get back into that stressful racing. I've got 85 race days this year compared to around 50 last year," he said.

"That comes with challenges, of course, but I think I'm ready for it."

News Corp Australia


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