A last minute breakaway by Norway’s Sven Erik Bystrom may have scuppered Australia’s chances of gold in Friday’s UCI Road World Championships under-23 men's road race, but after taking silver as Australia’s protected rider, Caleb Ewan said he had no regrets about their collective strategy.
Australia, with very limited help from some other selections, dominated much of the race, with the clear view of delivering Ewen as rested as possible for a possible bunch sprint. And as Ewan pointed out afterwards, their tactics almost worked out perfectly.
“I have no regrets, if we could repeat the race again, I’d say we should do exactly the same thing,” Ewan said afterwards.
“I know it sounds a bit silly because we didn’t win, but with my team on the front, I was protected when we raced through the city. I knew I could take good lines through the corners and we avoided crashes and sudden accelerations.”
“I needed to save my legs for the climb, and I know how hard they rode for me so I could do that.”
Ewen said if he could have changed one thing in the race, it would have been what happened two kilometres from the line, when his last teammate with him got a mechanical. But he recognised that even so, “the strongest guy won today.”
Australia though were unquestionably the strongest squad, and the future Orica-GreenEdge rider said he could not thank his teammates enough for the work they did throughout the 182 kilometre race.
“We went into the race almost 100 percent going for the sprint and the team rode so well, I’m very happy to have a team like that who’ll work so much for you.”
“It’s a little bit disappointing not to get the gold, but there’s not much we could do in the end there.”
Ewan’s experience in criteriums and on the track helped him enormously, he said, in the chaotic final dash to the line for the silver medal.
“It’s a Worlds sprint, so a lot of guys were taking a lot of risks, but the good thing about coming from Australia is I grew up riding on the track and doing lots of criteriums. So I’m used to that kind of thing, it happens all the time.
“I stayed calm and stayed in position and went at the perfect time.”
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The Independent, The Guardian, ProCycling, The Express and Reuters.