The last time an Australian team celebrated a five-nil whitewash over a touring party was the national cricket team in the 2013-14 Ashes series with Caleb Ewan's sprinting prowess equally as mesmerising and punishing as the bat of David Warner and bowling of Mitchell Johnson.
Ewan's final day stage win over world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) marked his fourth stage win of the Tour Down Under and fifth of the week after his success in the pre-race People's Choice Classic criterium. It capped off a successful week for the sprinter who is proving unbeatable across the opening weeks of the racing season.
The 22-year-old had a breakthrough debut neo-pro season in 2015, snaring 11 professional wins but ensured a difficult sophomore season with five wins, leaving him bereft of confidence -the secret to a sprinter's mojo.
"It gives me a whole lot of confidence going over to Europe and I think as a sprinter, it is something you really need," Ewan said after winning the stage and securing the points classification.
"I felt that in the middle of last season that I was lacking confidence a bit and hesitating in the sprints a lot and that caused me to get boxed in and I wouldn't really be able to open up my sprint. I think here you could see that with the confidence that I have, I am really relaxed in the sprints and I am able to get out of the sprints when I need to and open up my sprint."
Milan-San Remo debut
In 2017, Ewan will make his Milan-San Remo debut with his focus and training on ensuring he gets to the closing stages of races feeling fresher and less fatigued in year's gone by. The four stage wins are early confirmation for Ewan that is he on track to meet those objectives as he explained.
"I kept backing up and feeling good everyday and obviously I was going to go for the sprints when I could and the team backed me 100% when it could on those days, when it could have gone either way and I really have them to thank," he said of the stage 3 and 4 wins.
"It's not usual that you get lucky enough to win all the sprints in one race and I was just waiting for something bad to happen. Not something bad to happen but just getting boxed in or something because there is a whole lot of luck that goes along with winning a race.”
"Something could happen but I just think there was a whole lot of joy when I crossed the line first again.”
The Tour de France in 2018
Ewan's win ensured that he and overall race winner Richie Porte were the only two riders in the race to enjoy stage wins in 2017. It was also the second year running that Australians have won all six stages. Occasional training partners in Monaco, Porte had explained after his Willunga Hill stage that he wants to see Ewan at the Tour and believes he could win "three of four stages."
Ewan concurred with Porte's comments but did so in full acknowledgment of the teams' general classification aspirations this July.
"I would like to see myself in the Tour de France as well but it is hard with the expectations of having a serious GC contender and me going as well for sprints because you know you pretty much have to go full gas for a sprinter or for GC. With guys like Esteban and the Yates in the team, who have already been on the podium at grand tours, it is going to be hard to take a sprint train for me," said Ewan who is down to race the Giro d'Italia in May with his Tour de France debut likely to come in 2018.