Debutant overcomes nerves to triumph in Geelong
Caleb Ewan's week at the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic didn't get off to the greatest of starts, but he made up for it pretty quickly by blasting to a stage 2 victory at Eastern Park on Monday. The 2012 event marks his debut at the season opener, so he could be forgiven for any pre-race nerves.
"I turned up to the airport without my shoes and helmet which are probably the most important things," the 17-year-old laughed following the win. "I'd packed them in my carry-on bag which is what I normally do but I just completely forgot that. Mum and Dad got back home in time to bring it back to the airport."
The NSWIS rider went on the attack from the outset during Sunday's first stage, making sure he was at the front of the bunch and then joining a six-man breakaway among the likes of Baden Cooke (Mitchelton Wines – Lowe Farms) – 15-years his senior. His theory was a smart one, getting caught at the back of the bunch was not ideal on the tight hotdog-style circuit, because once you were down the back, you'd be hard-pressed to work your way back to the front. He stuck with the break for a few laps before launching a daring solo attack. Ewan was in Geelong to race.
When it came to Stage 2, Ewan was again in the day's break but on the last lap of the 1.8 kilometre course, was not pleased with where he sat but knew he was flying under the radar of his 12 opponents.
"I probably wasn't being looked at as much as some of the bigger guys," Ewan admitted. "On the last lap I got pushed right to the back and I sort of thought, ‘what am I going to do from here' but I found my way to the front on the uphill bit and found myself on the right wheel and then came around in the sprint."
That wheel happened to be that of Allan Davis (Mitchelton Wines – Lowe Farms), who he beat in the final sprint to the line. The former Commonwealth road champion and runner-up at Milan – San Remo told reporters he had not previously heard of Ewan.
"I've heard a lot in the last 10 minutes," Davis admitted post-race after taking the overall lead. "I think he's got a huge future, I've just got an update on what he's doing – a junior world champion and so on. I think he's on the right path. These are the guys you've got to look to for our cycling future in Australia. Full credit to Caleb and hopefully he has a great career."
Ewan, current junior World Omnium Champion, explained that he tried to forget about some of the people he was racing against and approach the race as if it were "just another under 19 race". It's a ploy that clearly worked.
The Bowral high school student is currently working on his next move, but regardless his immediate focus is on the Australian Track National Championships where he'll be racing the under 19 category and defending his omnium, points and madison titles from 2011.
"I'm having discussions with my coach [Mick Kejda] with what I want to do later this year," Ewan explained. "Maybe go to Europe again for racing but at the moment I'm not really sure because I've got track nationals coming up and it depends if I make the national team again."
For more of Caleb, check out the video below of Caleb Ewan defeating Mark Renshaw at the recent Clarence Street Cyclery Cup in the Miss-N-Out.
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