With 10 wins in 2017, Caleb Ewan is two victories shy of his best season to date numerically. However, the Orica-Scott fast man has arguably already enjoyed his best year in the WorldTour, with a Giro d'Italia stage win a major highlight.
At the Tour of Guangxi, Ewan is in the top echelon of sprinters and a favourite to add to his four Tour Down Under, three Tour of Britain, Abu Dhabi Tour, Tour of Poland, and Giro stage wins this year. However, Ewan hasn't raced since the Tour of Britain in early September. In the pre-race press conference, the 23-year-old expressed his desire for victory, caveated by his lack of recent race days.
"I think when you have that much time between races it is always hard to know what your form is going to be like. I think we will see tomorrow and how my legs feel," said Ewan. "I want to try and win a stage. In the first few days, there are stages, which are really good for the sprinters so my best opportunities will come soon. We brought a really good team for the sprints, so I think we will have a good lead out. Obviously, I want to win, but it will be hard."
With Marcel Kittel top of the winning tally in 2017 with 14, Ewan was asked if he could topple the German by the end of the six-stage race.
"It is going to be hard to do it here because there are so many good sprinters who have come here," he said of his rivals. "But I don't even think there is going to be four sprint stages. It depends on how the stages are raced and how good a form the other sprinters are in. I will try to be going as best as I can and I'll see how that goes."
Having ridden the Tour of Beijing in 2014 and finished second to now-teammate Luka Mezgec on stage 1, Ewan has shown he can perform in China and do so late into the season. Stage wins for Ewan would be important and welcome addition to his palmarès, but he said the exploration outside of cycling's European heartland is a benefit to all.
"Obviously, cycling is based in Europe so to get races to China and Australia and all these different places is great for the sport and makes it a lot more global than it probably previously was," said Ewan. "For the sport going forward, it is the way to go to race in all these different places and continents. Not just in Europe."
With wins in stage 1 of the Tour Down Under and Tour of Britain this year after breaks before both races, Ewan has shown a lack of racing doesn't mean a lack of form. And like Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) at the Tour of Turkey last week, a late haul of WorldTour wins could well be on the cards for Ewan, and with it, an ascent to the top of the win table for 2017.