Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan started his first official race with Orica-GreenEdge with success placing second in the bunch sprint during the opening stage at the WorldTour Tour of Beijing on Friday.
“We definitely came off to a great start with Caleb taking second,” said Matt White, the team's director. “I’m convinced that he’s one of the fastest guys here and I wouldn’t be surprised if he can take a win here in Beijing, and that would be huge for a 20-year-old WorldTour debutant.”
Luka Mezgec (Giant-Shimano) won the 167km race from Chong Li to Zhangjiakou in a sprint ahead of Ewan and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp). Mezgec now has a four-second lead in the overall classification heading into the second stage. Ewan is sitting in second place and leads the event’s young rider classification.
“It was really close,” said Ewan. “I got a little bit boxed in there at the end and I had to wait to get out, and I think I got out a little bit too late.”
The Tour of Beijing is expected to showcase multiple sprint stages where Ewan has a chance to secure a WorldTour stage win.
Ewan, 20, signed on as a stagiaire with Orica-GreenEdge for the 2014 season, and although he rode with the team at the Prudential Ride London, the Tour of Beijing is his first official race with the team.
“He’s ready to compete with the best and he showed that with his finish today,” White said. “All our guys are super motivated to get Caleb up there again and tomorrow we’re definitely in for another good opportunity.”
Stage 2 is a 147.5km race from Chong Li to Yanqing that is expected to end with a bunch sprint.