Caleb Ewan got the revamped under-23 Jayco-AIS World Tour Academy squad off to a winning start yesterday by taking out the Grand Prix Palio del Recioto with a dominant performance in the finishing sprint. Ewan, who skipped the previous day's Giro del Belvedere - where teammate Mitchell Mulhern finished third - was well positioned leading into the final corner and jumped with approximately 200m remaining to take a clear victory ahead of Silvio Herklotz (Team Stölting) and Luka Pibernik (Radenska).
Ewan took advantage of his team's solid pace-setting and moved into the lead group after approximately 100km. The upcoming rider held his nerve throughout the difficult final 40-odd kilometres to eventually race for the win. Teammate Damien Howson, who finished fifth the day before in the 154km Giro del Belvedere, played a crucial role in setting up the victory for his younger teammate by remaining out front until passing under the red kite in the 143km race.
Howson was swept up just before the final corner by a chasing group that included Ewan, who took silver in the U23 road race at the UCI World Championships last year. Ewan then went about easily besting the remaining eight riders to take victory.
The win at the Italian 1.2 race was the 18-year-old's first since taking out a stage and the overall at Australia's Bay Cycling Classic in January.
"It 'was my first race in Europe this year, and I won," said Ewan to paliodelrecioto.com. "This morning, before the start, I did not know what to expect, because we are still early in the season and my form still has a way to go. This is a tough race with many climbs and, as a team there were a number of very good climbers but I found myself in a good escape and in the end I managed to win."
"Awesome start to the European season with a win in my first race! So happy to have such a strong team here! #GPrecioto," he later tweeted.
The team will now look to next weekend's Trofeo Piva which has been won by the under-23 national set-up for the past two years by Jay McCarthy (2012) and Richard Lang (2011). Orica GreenEdge sprinter Michael Matthews finished second in the under-23 race in 2010.