Caleb Ewan started his career with Orica-GreenEdge last January taking home a pair of silver medals at the Australian national championships. Having won national titles at the U23 level, 21-year-old Ewan claimed his first elite title as he cantered to victory in the elite men’s criterium on Wednesday.
Orica-GreenEdge will head into Sunday’s elite men’s 183.2km road race with Ewan and Simon Gerrans as two trump cards to play. While questions in the post-race interview with Ewan quickly turned to the road race, the second year rider first wanted to thank his teammates for delivering him to the victory.
“They did they same thing at Williamstown a couple of days ago riding the race from the start to finish and set me up,” Ewan said of his win at the Bay Cycling Classic, one of his four wins of the season thus far.
“They were riding a solid tempo all day I think some of the other teams thought that they’d die towards the end but they actually lifted well towards the end. They were prefect today.”
While attacks were coming thick and fast throughout the 40km race, Orica-GreenEdge remained steadfast in its control of the race with Luke Durbridge doing the lion share of the work on the front of the race to ensure Ewan was fresh for the sprint.
Having missed out entirely at last year’s championships, the team can breathe easy there won’t be a repeat in 2016 and will look to its criterium performance as a template for Sunday. While there will be more at stake for the road title, Orica will need to balance the talent and ambition of Ewan and Gerrans but how they do so will be decided in coming days.
“We haven’t really spoken about it as we don’t have the whole team here,” Ewan said of how the team will balance his and Gerrans’ role in the team. “I actually don’t know what my role will be because last year I was only supposed to do the first three or four laps to make sure the right break got away and I ended being there in the end for the sprint.
“Maybe when there is a plan it doesn’t work out the way you want it to and different things happens. It’s going to be hard to read the race.”
Ewan’s silver medal last year suggested that the fastman could contest for victory on the challenging and hilly Buninyong circuit following on from his U23 success. Although it is weather rather than parcours which Ewan suggests is key to his aspirations.
“Obviously I’d like to win but we’ll see how the race plays out,” he said. “It makes a massive difference with which way the wind blows, if there is a tailwind up the climb its probably going to be too hard for me so I am hoping for a headwind.”
There was no suggestion from Ewan that he was taking on the mantle as sole leader for the team, adding that Gerrans will be the rider to beat and is glad to be racing alongside the 35-year-old.
“Obviously we are going to have different roles, he’s one of the clear favourites for the race and I am not so much a clear favourite and it doesn’t matter what the conditions are, he is always going to go well. For me, I need the conditions right in order to go well,” he added.