Orica-GreenEdge sprinter Caleb Ewan’s abandon on stage 10 of the Vuelta a España was not due to illness or exhaustion, rather the 21-year-old's early exit had been scheduled by the team in order not to burn the rider out.
With 11 wins this year and last but not least amongst them a victory on stage 5 at Alcala de Gaudaira in the Vuelta, the young Orica-GreenEdge rider certainly ends the year on a high note.
“We’d always planned on getting him to quit round about now," Orica-GreenEdge director Julien Dean told Cyclingnews.
"We’d talked about it, he wasn’t feeling the best [Sunday], and we agreed we’d see how he felt today," Dean said. "With him, we really have to remember that he’s very young. People forget that too often. But he’s certainly met all our expectations here and it’s a great way to finish the season. We’re really happy with how he’s done."
For Dean, Ewan’s abandon is partly due to a bigger change in cycling as a whole. "We race with a different generation now. Ten years ago or even eight years ago we didn’t have 20-year-olds racing these top events, so you have to be mindful of that.
"We’re really cautious about that with him, and with the big group of young riders in our squad. We make sure they progress well through their careers, and if that means stopping a Grand Tour early, that means stopping them early. Also it’s always harder for a sprinter to get through these races than a climber."
As Dean sees it, the Vuelta finishes off an ideal first season for Ewan. "It’s been a great progression throughout. We’ve kept him in some smaller races earlier on and now he’s finishing off with a win in the biggest race of this time of year."
The Vuelta is Ewan’s last race of his rookie season, Dean revealed. "He’ll go home, get some time off and then start building up for the Australian summer races." - now just four months away.