Caleb Ewan will be the youngest rider in Team Australia when he lines up for the men's road race at the World Championships. It will be Ewan's first time racing in the elite category after taking silver in the under-23 race in Ponferrada 2014.
"This will be my longest race. I did Paris-Tour the other day, which was 250km so it's similar, but this will be just a bit longer," Ewan told Cyclingnews. "It's a bit hotter and a bit windier," he added that the conditions would be somewhat different to the ones he faced in France last weekend.
The team will be behind last year's runner-up Michael Matthews, but the pocket rocket from Sydney is a wildcard option for the team. Ewan has proved himself against some of the top sprinters this season but competing in a sprint at the end of such an arduous race is a venture into the unknown for him and he is thinking about the long-term rather than his result on Sunday.
"To be honest, it's probably going to be more for him than me, and it's stupid not to back a guy like that who has proved himself in the World Championships and long, hard races," he said. "I haven't really proved myself in races that are 250 kilometres plus. I think it is more about the experience of me being here. Any experience I can get now is going to help me in the future so that's more what it is about for me.
"We have a super experienced group here, which I think will be crucial in the first 150 kilometres of the race. There's the potential to be really big crosswinds so it's good to have those experienced guys here."
This season is Ewan's second as a professional, and it has been a long one since setting out at the National Championships in January. Ewan quickly chalked up his first victory at the Tour Down Under and added another by the end of the week, beating his compatriot Mark Renshaw on both occasions. There were a few close calls at the Giro d'Italia, including a second place to Andre Greipel on stage 12. He added another WorldTour win, the fourth of his young career, at the Hamburg Classic in August after Nacer Bouhanni was disqualified for deviating from his line.
"Although I didn't really get a chance to put my hands up over the finish line, which was disappointing but it is the biggest win I've had this year. Looking back, that's been my highlight," he explained.
"It's been a pretty good year; I still look back on it and think that it could have been a little bit better in some areas, but I can't complain. It has been a big year stepping up to more WorldTour level races and harder races for me. Last year, I won more races, but they were smaller races. It was always going to be hard to step up to more of the WorldTour level races. I think that I did it reasonably well so I can be happy."
Going into next season there will be much more expectation on the shoulders of the Australian, especially if he can pull out a strong performance at the World Championships.
"There is probably a bit more pressure," he told Cyclingnews. "Hopefully [there will be] some more wins. I think I will be racing some similar races to the ones that I did this year. Obviously, I've got that experience in me; I will be another year stronger and hopefully those races that I almost won I can end up getting next year."
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