Caleb Ewan keeps bigger picture in mind after People's Choice Classic defeat

For Mitchelton-Scott sports director Matt White, Caleb Ewan's third-place finish in the People's Choice Classic matters little in the bigger scheme of his impending Tour de France debut this July.

Ewan won the previous two editions of the Tour Down Under dress rehearsal in Adelaide's east end, but was forced to settle for third and watch as Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) sailed by after hitting out early.

"He is the world champion and I've said before, there is a lot more competition here and it is good," White told Cyclingnews at the team car following the 50.6km evening criterium. "We are getting ready for the Tour de France and the more we race these guys the better."

Speaking to Cyclingnews before the race, Ewan also suggested the sprints would be "a bit more competitive," adding afterwards that Bora's double threat of Sagan and Sam Bennett looks dangerous once racing starts proper on Tuesday.

"He looks to be in good form," Ewan said of the world champion. "We knew he would always be one to watch and they have two cards to play with Sam and himself so it is always going to be a bit tricky to know which one is going to sprint. Now I know which guys to look out for."

Explaining his sprint to the line, Ewan said that a variety of factors contributed to his late fade to third, after initially taking the front position.

"It was a pretty tough one. It kind of got muddled up in the end and I think we lost Alex [Edmondson] pretty early on," Ewan said. "We were a man down for a bit but I think I started my sprint a little too early. It was more of a headwind than I thought and when it started to go up a bit, I felt I really couldn't get on top of the gear."

With potentially three stages of the Tour Down Under likely to conclude in bunch sprints, Ewan remains confident of adding to his six career Tour Down Under stage wins. Similarly to White, he is not losing sleep over the loss.

"I feel pretty confident and for the sprints, we have a stronger team than the last few years. I am really confident in them and like I said before, I had a good nationals and I am confident in my form," he said.

While Ewan is looking one week ahead, White is looking five months into the future when Ewan will line out at the Tour.

With Bora fielding what White calls their "Tour de France team minus two climbers," the 2018 Tour Down Under is a key litmus test for Ewan.

"We will have our hands full this week with them because they are a really good team," White told Cyclingnews. "Especially with the addition of Oss, which is going to make a big difference. It will be a challenge this week but it will be a good one. We are preparing for the biggest races of the year at the Tour and preparation starts here."

The chilly evening criterium of 50 kilometres will be far removed from the challenges of a hot week of racing with Ewan eyeing stage wins and White on building the platform for Tour de France stage win success.


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