Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan believes that there are between six and eight stage win opportunities for him in this year's Tour de France. The 24-year-old is set to make his Tour debut with Lotto Soudal this summer after an off-season move from Mitchelton Scott, and so far Ewan has been consistent this season with six wins to his name, including a stage at this year's Giro d'Italia.
However, his Tour de France debut signifies a landmark moment in Ewan's career as he looks to fill the void on Lotto Soudal left vacant by Andre Greipel, the rider Ewan controversially replaced at the end of last season.
This year's Tour starts with a bunch sprint stage in Brussels with one of the fast-men, like Ewan, in prime position to take the stage and with it the first maillot jaune of this year's race. However, the opening stage is likely to be a fraught affair as the sprinters' teams look to assert their dominance and the GC squads aim to shelter their leaders towards the front of the race. Although Ewan is excited about the Grand Depart on Saturday, he is well aware that it comes with risks, too.
"Starting in Brussels will be a great way to kick off my first Tour. There are going to be good sprinters and everybody is in their best form but already having six wins this season definitely means that I am going to the Tour with confidence. The opening stage is for sure going to be dangerous. All the general classification riders will want to stay out of trouble and all the sprinters want to be at the front as it is not only a chance to take the stage win but also to earn the first yellow jersey," Ewan said in a press release issued by Lotto Soudal on Wednesday.
Ewan abandoned the Giro d'Italia after winning his stage into Novi Ligure but he returned to racing at the ZLM Tour in June, winning a stage and finishing second in the points classification. While there are a number of fast finishers in this year's race, Ewan is confident that he arrives in Belgium with his best form, and with an entire team devoted to his cause, he sees a number of chances in the three weeks that lay ahead.
"Depending on how well I will be climbing, I think there are six to eight sprint chances. The rather difficult finales can really benefit my chances but at the Tour, there are some real specialists in the uphill finishes and at the end of the day, I am more of a sprinter for the flats. If I complete the Tour with one stage win, I will be satisfied but I am of course always aiming for as many wins as possible."
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