The Australian Road National Championships are an important race for Caleb Ewan in the context of his desire to claim a maiden green-and-gold jersey and simultaneously gain one-day racing experience ahead of his Milan-San Remo debut.
Having shouldered the responsibility for Orica-Scott at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic and the criterium championship, Ewan will be one of six cards the Australian WorldTour team can play in Sunday’s 183.6km race, and he’s looking forward to sharing the leadership role.
“When we got to the crits I am the one man that the team is working for, and I have to win. On Sunday, we have so many options it takes the pressure off being a sole leader, and because we do have everything covered I will go into the race knowing exactly what my role is, and if the race plays out like that, I am ready for it. Otherwise, I am there waiting and have trust and faith in the rest of the team to do their job as well,” Ewan said of the race in which he finished second to Heinrich Haussler in 2015.
Having announced himself as a prodigious sprinting talent at the tender age of 17 by winning at the Bay Crits, Ewan has entered the majority of his races as a favourite for victory. Asked what affect the pressure has on his mindset and approach to racing, Ewan explained he enjoys starting races with the pressure to perform.
“I don’t mind it, to be honest,” he said. “It is probably harder to go into a race with pressure and being the favourite but I have gotten used to it over the last few years. Ever since I did well at Bay Crits when I was 17, every time I’ve since come back to that race, for example, I have had pressure on my back to do well there, which is good for my career I think to learn to deal with the pressure and coming back to a race as a favourite. After awhile, you get used to it and you deal with it and becomes second nature.”
Simon Gerrans and Luke Durbridge have both won on the course, while Ewan’s U23 victory and silver medal suggest he could win an elite title on the hilly circuit. Although the physical character of the circuit is often cited as the reason sprinters can’t win on the course, Ewan highlights the wind and weather as equal factors in determining the outcome.
Gaviria and sprinting rivalry
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