Caleb Ewan’s presence at the pre-race press conference for the Tour of Guangxi highlighted his status as the odds-on favourite for stage 1 victory in Beihai, despite a six-week break following the Tour of Britain, during which he got engaged.
The Orica-Scott team controlled affairs for the majority of the 107.4km stage, giving the impression that it was ready to deliver Ewan into a position to challenge for the win. In the end, the wide roads of the finale got the better of Ewan and Orica-Scott, with the 23-year-old crossing the line in 52nd place.
"It was pretty messy and I think we kind of lost of each other. I had to do a big effort coming out of the last corner and so had nothing left in the sprint," Ewan told Cyclingnews. "It was a pretty good circuit, a flowing circuit. It was pretty easy if you were sitting in the bunch.”
Although it was the shortest of the six stages at the inaugural edition of the Chinese WorldTour race, Ewan added that he had time to ease his way into the race, but started to feel the effects of his break once the pace increased for the bunch sprint finale.
"Luckily enough it was pretty easy during the stage, so I didn't feel it too much. But definitely in that last 10km and up the last climb, I definitely felt it," Ewan said.
Although Ewan was unable to open up his sprint fully and test himself against the likes of stage winner Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors), it was still a learning experience and one that will hold him in good stead for the week ahead.
"It gives me confidence and for sure I'll have another crack at the next few stages. Hopefully I can get up for a win," said Ewan, who has won stages of the Tour Down Under, Abu Dhabi Tour, Giro d'Italia, Tour de Pologne and Tour of Britain this year.
Stage 2 of the Tour of Guangxi takes the riders from Qinzhou to Nanning where a sprint finish is again the likely outcome, with Ewan aiming to resume his winning run.