Drapac's Jones eager to help Ewan in Worlds

Sprinter anticipates year’s first win shortly

Sprinter Brenton Jones believes he could play a key lead-out role for fellow Australian Caleb Ewan in the world road championships in Qatar later this year if he is selected.

But his eagerness to figure in Ewan’s success is purely for then – and not before, as he focuses first on a breakthrough first win of the year and then adding to it in races to come.

Jones (Drapac), 24, has raced against Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge), 21, numerous times, and this season has finished second to him on five occasions – on three stages and overall at the Mitchelton Cycling Classic in Geelong, Australia, in January, and again in the Australian elite criterium championship at Ballarat, Victoria one week later.

“If I was selected for the worlds that would be an amazing opportunity,” Jones told Cyclingnews on Saturday while preparing for the the 129.4km fourth stage of the Tour de Langkawi from Ipoh to Tana Rata in the Cameron Highlands.

“I’m sure I would be able to be a massive part in Australia’s lead out for Caleb.

“It’s a course that I raced on at Tour of Qatar [February 8-12], so I know the course. It’s a kermesse-criterium type circuit that both Caleb and I are very familiar with.

“It’s a course that suits me. If I get selected that’s a dream. If not … that’s life.”

Jones, now in his second year with Drapac after leaving Avanti (now Avanti-IsoWhey) following 2014, believes that he is on the cusp of an early season victory, and possibly in the Tour de Langkawi in light of his second place to Italian Andrea Guardini (Astana) on stage one from Kangar to Baling.

Misfortune followed on stage two which ended in a sprint won by Italian Andrea Palini (Skydive Dubai) when he punctured with five kilometres to go. Then in stage three, won by American John Murphy (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling), Jones admits that he was badly placed before still finishing eighth.

“I hope that good win is going to come this week,” said Jones who won the final stage of the Tour de Hainan in October last year after a second on stage four and fifth on stage two.

“We have been close on the first day – a second to Guardini was a good result, but it would have been nice to get the win.

“It wasn’t to be, so second is something to be content with. “The second day, I was unfortunate – I got a flat tyre … and probably would have been up there again.

“[On stage four] I was probably a bit too far back. But still it was another top 10 so I am showing consistent form. “

And this early of the season there are still plenty of races to go. There is a lot of opportunity for me this year.

“I’m just waiting to capitalise and get that first win, a big win.”

Jones, who also won the stage one prologue of the Tour of Japan last May before placing fourth on stage three and second on stage seven, is excited about his chances in Sunday’s fifth stage, 148.8km from Tapah to Kuala Lumpur.

“It should be a sprint [even] with a ‘Cat 4’ climb 20km to go,” Jones said.

“I should be able to get over that for another sprint, and the final day is another flat something 100km. “There are at least two, maybe three opportunities left.”

Jones believes the Drapac ‘train’ is also getting better with time and experience in bunch sprints together; especially with seasoned Australian Graeme Brown and New Zealander Thomas Scully bolstering the line up for strength and mind.

“I think practice makes perfect,” Jones said. “So the more we do it, the more we learn and improve together – and we talk about it at team meetings – and the more situations we are put under the better we are going to be.

“We have a good team here – Graeme Brown, Tom Scully are both very very strong riders.

“On the first day everyone saw how good they did to get me up there. So I am sure they can do it again this week.”

The impact of one victory cannot be underestimated either, said Jones, recalling his Tour de Hainan stage win last year. “

It’s good for the confidence,” Jones said.

“A big win like that is something that you feed off in training and feed off as a team.

“You know you can do it, so the confidence of the team – from the riders and the staff - rubs off on you.

“It’s a big impact.”

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