Caleb Ewan has made no secret of his Australian summer ambitions. The three-time winner and reigning champion of the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic was aiming to match Robbie McEwan's feat of three-straight series wins. His ambitions were dealt an unexpected blow in Geelong on Sunday when he crashed on the opening day of the three-race series.
Up until the point that Ewan crashed on the last corner of the hour-long criterium, his five-man Orica-Scott squad appeared calm, collected and in charge. The Australian-registered squad controlled a lone early breakaway before shutting down the move in the final three laps of the race.
The 22-year-old launched an attack on the back stretch of the elongated oval-shaped circuit, heading into the final turn. He carried his speed into the corner but maintains he was no faster than normal around the bend.
"I'm not exactly sure what happened," Ewan said. "I have hit that corner so many times in exactly the same way, if not faster, and haven't had an issue. It's frustrating to be in that position, wanting to deliver for the team who chased all race to support me and to crash."
While Ewan's jersey and knicks were visibly torn and tattered, his injuries are limited to skin lost. He's expected to toe the start line in Portarlington on Monday.
"Crashes happen, and thankfully with this one, Caleb has come out of it with no problems," said Orica-Scott sport director Matt Wilson. "Prior to that moment, the race was going really well for us."
A three-time winner of the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic (2013, 2015, 2016) and a three-time winner on Richie Boulevard, Ewan only managed 17th place in the series opener. The criterium series is scored on points rather than time. Points are awarded ten deep. The race winner snags 12 points compared to 10 points for second and 8 points for third. From there it's 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 points for places 4-10.
Having missed out on the points, it's not entirely impossible for Ewan to miss out on the overall win but it certainly makes his objective much harder to achieve.
"There are more day so come, so we'll keep trying," Ewan said.