Australian Mitchelton-Scott squad in hunt for Tour Down Under stage wins rather than high general classification placing
Four-time 2017 TDU stage winner Ewan will face André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) and world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) in the opening WorldTour race of the 2018 season.
Mitchelton-Scott head sports director Matt White called the line-up the best sprint field the race has ever had.
“Caleb is in great shape but the level of competition is really high this year – Greipel, Sagan, Viviani and Caleb – it’s the best sprint field they’ve had in the past 20 years,” said White.
“Four world class sprinters and they are each supported by strong teams, Bora-Hansgrohe almost has their Tour de France team here.”
White says that Ewan and the team will make the most of such high-level competition so early in the season, particularly as Ewan is scheduled to make his Tour de France debut in July.
“Most teams don’t send such stacked teams to Down Under which is one reason we have had so much success here, but it’s a really good hit out for sprint teams.
“When you look at how many sprint opportunities there are between now and July you have to make them all count, so the higher the level of competition the better for us as we prepare Caleb for a debut at the Tour de France.”
Ewan will be backed up by a strong team comprising Jack Bauer, Alex Edmondson, Mat Hayman, Damien Howson, Daryl Impey and Cameron Meyer.
Having just defended his Australian national criterium title, Ewan says he’s in great shape going into the race – but that stage win possibilities may be limited.
“There’s probably only three stages that really suit sprinters in the 2018 Tour Down Under, and then there may be a fourth depending on how it is raced,” said Ewan.
“Looking at the profiles, the first two stages and last stage suit me best and then maybe the third stage if it is a more negative race.
“This year, the sprint field is a lot better than it’s been in the past two years so it’s definitely going to be challenging.”
The 2018 Tour Down Under runs from Tuesday, January 16, to Sunday, January 21 and is preceded by the single-day People’s Choice Classic criterium race on Sunday, January 14.