Caleb Ewan predicts chaotic sprints at Giro d'Italia

ABU DHABI BREAKWATER UNITED ARAB EMIRATES FEBRUARY 27 Arrival Caleb Ewan of Australia and Team Lotto Soudal Celebration during the 3rd UAE Tour 2021 Stage 7 a 147km stage from Yas Mall to Abu Dhabi Breakwater UAETour on February 27 2021 in Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Caleb Ewan of Lotto Soudal celebrates stage 7 win at 2021 UAE Tour (Image credit: Getty Images)

Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) has said he expects chaos in the sprints at the upcoming Giro d'Italia as he kicks off his campaign to win a stage at each of the three Grand Tours this season.

The Australian sprinter already has three stages of the race under his belt from the 2017 and 2019 editions and heads to Turin looking to add to that tally with his lead-out men Roger Kluge and Jasper De Buyst.

The Belgian team doesn't come with a fully dedicated sprint squad, with stage hunters Thomas De Gendt and Tomasz Marczynski on the Giro team along with climber Harm Vanhoucke. However, Ewan said that most other teams are in a similar position. With a wealth of top sprinters, each accompanied by a handful of lead-out men, he sees potential for chaotic finales.

"It makes the sprints a little bit more chaotic because most guys only have two or three guys to lead them out," Ewan said in a pre-race press conference. "All those guys will be waiting until the last minutes to do their lead out because you can't start from 10 kilometres out with three guys. If there's a lot of teams trying to do the same thing, then it's going to be chaotic.

"Looking down the teams, I don't see a team with a super-strong lead out. I've got my main guys with me but it's hard to start getting organised really early on when you only have a few guys to help, and I think a lot of other sprinters are in the same."

Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep) won't be lining up in Turin on Saturday, but the race still boasts a wealth of sprint talent, including Ewan, who has a claim to be the top sprinter in cycling.

"I think there's quite a lot of good guys here. You have Elia Viviani, Fernando Gaviria, Dylan Groenewegen, Tim Merlier, Giacomo Nizzolo. Maybe I forgot some, but those guys are the main ones. I think it's quite a good sprint field," Ewan said.

"Before Groenewegen got suspended, he was amongst the world's best sprinters so it will be interesting to see at what level he returns. And then there's always Peter Sagan to keep an eye on. On paper, there are some six sprint opportunities, depending on how the race unfolds of course.

"I might be one of the big favourites amongst the fast guys, but that doesn't mean I'll easily win each sprint. If any sprinter I just mentioned is on a good day, they can for sure beat me. In addition, finishes at the Giro are often quite technical and you also need a decent amount of luck."

Ewan, who has a stage win at the UAE Tour and a second at Milan-San Remo under his belt so far in 2021, looks a good bet to add to his victory tally over the course of the three weeks in Italy. That is, if he stays the course through to Milan.

He said that the main goal is a stage win, and if he gets one, he'll have to decide how to progress with the Tour de France in mind. Of course, donning the maglia ciclamino mid-race could change things, too.

"I already said that my goal this year was to win a stage in all three Grand Tours and that's still my objective," he said.

"It is not easy to – if you want to win a stage in each Grand Tour – to also finish all three of them. In the first ten days of the Giro, there are already several opportunities. So, if I could win one of them, we have to evaluate what the best preparation for the Tour de France is. If I'm not feeling 100 per cent then I don't think I'll finish but I'll try to win a stage first and then go from there."

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