Cycling star Ewan relishes new pressures

Australian cycling ace Caleb Ewan is starting a new chapter in his career in the Tour Down Under.
Australian cycling ace Caleb Ewan is starting a new chapter in his career in the Tour Down Under.

Australian cycling star Caleb Ewan is relishing the pressure that comes with his major career change.

The sprint ace showed he is coping fine when he won his third Down Under Classic street race on Sunday afternoon in Adelaide.

The classic is the prelude to the Tour Down Under, which starts on Tuesday.

The 24-year-old pocket rocket had a difficult exit from the Australian Mitchelton-Scott team last year, after he was a last-minute omission from their Tour de France line-up.

Ewan has joined the Belgian Lotto-Soudal team and there is plenty riding on his new assignment.

He is their team leader and he has replaced German great Andre Greipel.

But unlike Mitchelton-Scott, who are focused on overall Grand Tour objectives, Ewan now has the whole team behind him.

"I hope I'm ready for it, because I have to step up a little bit as a leader this year," Ewan said.

"I prefer to have the pressure with the team backing me 100 per cent, than the pressure without that."

Ewan also noted the switch of teams is a big change of culture for him.

"I've always been in the Australian 'system', since I was a teenager - the NSW institute, then the national institute and from there I went into GreenEDGE (Mitchelton-Scott)," he said.

"I'm used to a certain way, I guess the Australian mentality.

"So it's going to be a bit different in a Belgian team.

"With the guys I have, especially in the leadout, it's still multicultural."

There are familiar faces - he brought German sprint leadout specialist Roger Kluge with him from Mitchelton-Scott.

Kluge did a power of work at the start of the month for Ewan when the sprinter won two races at Victoria's Bay Crit series.

Renowned Australian Adam Hansen is another of Ewan's key domestiques and he has raced before with British rider Adam Blythe.

"We have a good mix of the guys who've been in the leadout with Greipel before ... and then guys who have been with me before," Ewan said.

It is now several years since the Tour Down Under was a sprinter's paradise.

The race course is notably tougher again this year, but there will still be opportunities from next Tuesday for the fast men.

"There are still going to be three opportunities for the sprints, so we'lll be going full gas for that," Ewan said.

Australian Associated Press