Ewan to again target sprints at the Tour Down Under

Caleb Ewan has confirmed that he will again target the sprint finishes at the Tour Down Under as he kicks off his 2017 season at home in Australia.

The 22-year-old sprinter will be part of a strong Orica-BikeExchange team at the Tour Down Under, with 2016 winner Simon Gerrans and Grand Tour contender Esteban Chaves already confirmed in the seven-rider team. Ewan won the opening and closing stages of the race in 2016, with Gerrans taking stages three and four. The team has won the race on three occasions with Gerrans and is aiming to make it back-to-back overall victories for the first time in 2017.

Orica-BikeExchange will reveal its 2017 kit produced by Giordana on Monday. It has still to reveal its major goals and team leaders for the Grand Tours but Ewan is looking forward to beginning his season in Australia.

"It will be hard to top or go as good as last year but I think if I'm in good enough form then I should be able to perform," Ewan told the Adelaide Advertiser newspaper.

"In front of a home crowd is probably the best place for me to perform at the moment, as I'm trying to build up my name in the country. It's just good to get a good start to the season before you head over to Europe, so you go with a bit more confidence. That's also really important for me as well."

Ewan won five races in 2016, including the Hamburg Cyclassics WorldTour race and the final stage at the Tour of Britain. He was close to victory in many others, including stages at the Giro d'Italia, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Pologne. He was part of Australia’s team for the World Championships in Qatar but failed to make it into the echelon that decided the race.

"I had a lot harder race program than last year, I had more wins last year but the quality I don't think were as good as this year," Ewan argued.

"It was still a step in the right direction and hopefully I can improve on that again next year. I think the race program is going to be pretty similar, obviously I'll go with a bit more knowledge and strength and hopefully get better results."

More opportunities in 2017

Fellow Australian and fellow sprinter Michael Matthews has moved to Team Sunweb (Giant-Alpecin in 2016) and so Ewan should have more chances of success and even better support from the team.

"Obviously the more I race with my teammates and the guys who are going to help me in the lead-out, our relationship will get better," he said.

"And we've got (German) Roger Kluge coming to the team (from IAM Cycling) and he'll be really good in the lead-out. So I'm looking forward to having a good core group racing with me next year and once we get to know each other it should work really well."

Ewan has been back in training for four weeks, doing rides at his European base in Monaco with other riders who live in the area. He travelled to Australia last week and will ride the Australian national Madison championships with Mark Renshaw on Sunday, December 17. He is a former junior track world champion in the omnium but has not raced on the track since 2013.

"Every year when I come back to Australia I think about doing it but I never get around to organising a partner, but we (Renshaw) were training together and talking about it and he wanted to do the same thing.

"I did my club racing (in Bowral) the other day actually and that was the first time I'd got on my track bike in two years. So, it's not going to be fun next weekend.

"It's just so different on the track bike compared to the road bike, you never really notice it when you're younger but after having two years off you can really tell the difference."

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