The Australian made a well-publicised move from Mitchelton-Scott to Lotto Soudal over the winter, with the Belgian team hoping their new signing would replace their former long-standing sprinter, Andre Greipel. Ewan picked up a couple of morale-boosting wins in January's Bay Crits series, but with Elia Viviani and Peter Sagan on the start list at the Tour Down Under, the competition will be far fiercer.
"Obviously, we are going for a few stage wins, but at least one would be good. It won't be a great result if I haven't won a stage by the end of the race. There are definitely three stages suited for a sprint finish – maybe four. The other three stages will probably be too hard for the sprinters, but that obviously depends on how the race unfolds. The main guys I'll be looking out for are Peter Sagan [Bora-Hansgrohe] and Elia Viviani [Deceuninck-QuickStep], who are both quick and strong riders. Moreover, there is a really strong sprint field here so there may be some other riders to keep an eye on as well," Ewan said before the race.
The Tour Down Under stage race follows the Down Under Classic – a non-WorldTour criterium held in the centre of Adelaide. Ewan won the curtain-raiser in both 2016 and 2017, and a third win would be the perfect way to ease pressure ahead of the main event.
Ewan's lead-out train, unlike those belonging to Viviani and Sagan, is still finding their feet. The Lotto train consists of remnants of Greipel's old squad and Ewan's hand-picked replacements after he brought Adam Blythe and Roger Kluge across with him to the Belgian team.
Blythe first rode with Ewan during the Australian's first full WorldTour season in 2015, while Kluge jumped ship with Ewan from Mitchelton at the end of last season. The likely line-up for Sunday's criterium should see Kluge drop Blythe off in the finale before Ewan takes over inside the closing metres. The trio used a Mallorca training camp in December to hone their tactics, but Sunday will be the first time all three have worked together in a competitive and public display.
"It certainly is a nice feeling to once again be at the start of the Tour Down Under, which is a great event with lots of enthusiastic fans. It's one of my favourite races to be at, and I'm especially looking forward to starting the race with my new teammates. I had Adam Hansen with me at the Nationals but that's completely different to racing with a full team," Ewan said.
"I got a couple of guys who came with me from my previous team, so it should work out a little bit easier. The new lead-out train is something that could succeed straight away or might take a couple of races. We'll see once the race starts."
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