National championships a confidence-boosting exercise for Ewan

Criterium champion already building for July's Tour de France debut

For Caleb Ewan, January is a confidence month. Named in Mitchelton-Scott's 2018 Tour de France team, this season is another important milestone in his young career. A stage winner at the Vuelta a Espana in 2015 and the Giro d'Italia in 2017, winning early and winning often is key to Ewan's Tour aspirations.

Ewan will turn 24 during his debut Tour, on the lumpy stage 5 from Lorient to Quimper, but before the European summer, the focus is on sweeping all before him across the Australian summer. With a third straight criterium title in the pocket, Ewan's next goal is Sunday's road race and the possibility of lining out as the national champion at the Tour.

"I think about wearing the green and gold, but obviously it is going to be hard again and hopefully it is going to be a headwind up the climb and I can have a real shot at it," said Ewan, referencing the weather conditions that aided his silver medal from 2015.

With Mitchelton-Scott, Australia's sole WorldTour team, the favourites for the Australian nationals in recent years, the BMC quartet of Simon Gerrans, Richie Porte, Rohan Dennis and Miles Scotson has arguably taken up that mantle for 2018 - a fact that Ewan embraces ahead of the 185.3km race.

"It is going to be hard. BMC have a really strong lineup, and I am not going to give away too much of our plan but it is definitely going to be tough," he said.

"I think we have had the pressure on us the last few years and it might be alright for another team to take the pressure off us."

With four stage wins at the 2017 Tour Down Under and two the year prior, Ewan has carried his nationals form into the WorldTour opener. Leading the line at Mitchelton-Scott again in 2018 for the race, Ewan is aiming for more success in South Australia. However, he and the team are also looking ahead and aiming to build the platform for Milan-San Remo success down under.

"This year I will be going for San Remo and that will be my biggest goal for the start of the season. I will be building up for that through this Australian season," he said.

While Ewan didn't definitively rule out April's Commonwealth Games as his next season goal following San Remo, four years on from finishing 12th in Glasgow, a full European programme is the more likely outcome.

"I am not too sure yet. I think Comm Games will be out of the question. I don't think it is in a great time of the year, and then I obviously have to come back from Europe to race it so I am not sure exactly if I will be coming back for it," he added.

For Ewan, the emphasis across January is simple: add to his 26 professional wins and keep the confidence high ahead of July's Tour de France.

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