Caleb Ewan is missing from the Australian line up at the UCI Junior Track World Championships in Invercargill, New Zealand, this week where he would have been defending his omnium title from 2011. Instead, the 18-year old has been racing in Europe on the road in the build up for a tilt at the UCI Road World Championships where it's hoped he will compete for Australia in the junior men's road race.
Ewan brought himself to the attention of the senior ranks in January when he won stage 2 and stage 4 of the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic, going on to finish second overall in the general classification. His week had got off to a rocky start when he forgot to bring his helmet and shoes with him to the airport but remained calm under pressure, initially treating the rest of the more-experienced field as if it was "just another under 19 race".
There is no doubting Ewan's speed but he sees himself as being more in the mould of Philippe Gilbert despite a frame and a sprinting nous that would draw some comparisons to Robbie McEwen.
"I think at the moment I'm still not 100 percent a pure sprinter," he told Cyclingnews. "I can still get over a few climbs and harder courses - I have to at the moment."
So far, Ewan has claimed six wins on what will be a six month stint of racing in Europe, with the highlight undoubtedly coming on stage 2 of Liège-La Gleize in Belgium, one of the top events for juniors on the UCI calendar.
"That was a pretty big one," Ewan admitted. "The day before I didn't go very well - I don't know why. I wasn't feeling that great.
"Even the day when I did win, I wasn't feeling that great. It was a really hilly race. When we were living in Holland it was just flat everywhere, no hills at all, so I lost a bit of more form on the climbs so I was just doing what I could to keep up going over all the climbs and just making it over. Usually I'm alright on the climbs but I just got over, which is good."
While likely teammate for Ewan in Limburg, Alex Morgan did choose to race track worlds, the Bowral rider thought that it was too great of a risk with essential requirement of two peaks around one month apart. Ewan is now bound for Italy with the rest of the team where they'll compete before zeroing in on the Netherlands.
Ewan's form is good, his numbers in training are the best they've ever been, so he is feeling confident of posting a result on September 23. He admits however, that the race will have to go his way.
"To win I will have to sit in near the front and then try to do the least amount of work possible and then wait for a sprint," Ewan told Cyclingnews. "I'm hoping that it will be hard enough so that it splits up instead of a break going because it's too hard to know which break to go into. It's a good course. There's a long climb in the back straight, it's not too steep but it will be pretty hard. The hard climb coming up to the finish [Cauberg Hill] suits me because it's short and steep."
After worlds, Ewan will return to Australia and next year, is hoping to be racing for UCI Continental squad Jayco-AIS. As for whether Ewan will return to Bay Cycle Classic, he's not sure.
"I might do it," he said. "I'll have to see what my forms like. Around then nationals will be my priority. I think I still have to do a bit of track as well because it's good for my sprint."