Mitchelton-Scott say it just did not make sense to bring Caleb Ewan to the Tour de France when their classification team is so successful.
Head sports director Matt White noted the results: out of 17 sprints this season, the 23-year-old Aussie sprinter only won two. Instead, the Australian WorldTour team put their weight behind Brit Adam Yates who placed fourth in the 2016 Tour and just finished second behind Geraint Thomas (Sky) in the Critérium du Dauphiné.
“We put a lot of effort into the sprint train over the last two years, but it wasn’t working how we wanted to,” White told Cycling Weekly.
“It’s difficult when you have a 23-year-old who’s never been to the Tour de France, but you have Adam Yates who’s been coming up in form and showed results all year, including the Dauphiné this month.
“We had to make a decision where to hedge our bets on both of the guys or channel our energy into Adam and the guys around him.”
White called all 11 of the riders who were on the list to make the eight-man roster for the Tour starting July 7 in Vendée. He had to explain the bad news to an “upset and frustrated” Ewan, who has already won stages in both the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España.
Cycling Weekly learned that he will be joining Belgian team Lotto-Soudal in 2019. Some speculated that the planned switch could have been the reason for the Tour snub.
“I can only speak on the behalf on our team, an example was in 2016, we knew Michael Matthews was going to Sunweb but we took him to the Tour and he won a stage,” White added. “Whatever Caleb’s movements are for next year, we have to make a decision on what’ s best for the Tour now.”
Based on the Giro d’Italia, Mitchelton-Scott made a logical decision to support Adam Yates solely. His twin bother and team-mate Simon Yates led the Giro for 13 days and won three stages with the help of the beefed up classification team with riders like Mikel Nieve from Team Sky.
Adam has had his own share of results this year despite fracturing his pelvis in March. He placed top five in stage races Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of California. Earlier this month, he won the Mont Blanc stage and went runner-up to Thomas in the Dauphiné.
“Second place in the Dauphiné is not a bad result in his last hit out. What can he do in the Tour? I think he is definitely in that group of guys, and there is a big group, who will be challenging to make the podium,” White explained.
“It’s also part to his learning experience at 25. No matter the result, we put 100 per cent into that process of becoming a better GC rider. If that’s a podium result, then sensational. Anyway, every Grand Tour he does, he will learn, we’ve seen that already.”
Mitchelton-Scott hope to keep all three of their classification aces, the Yates twins and Colombian Esteban Chaves, with the team for 2019 and beyond. The sprint team could be sacrificed.
“We’ve been morphing into a team for the GC, we showed that in the Giro, we also had great results with Esteban in the Giro and Vuelta with podiums. We are turning into a very credible classification team,” White said.
“It depends on who our sprinter is next year, or do we even have one? Sometimes it might be better for the team to sit out a year or two until we can find the right person for the team.”
The team still counts several fast men, if not out-right sprinters, including Daryl Impey, Luka Mezgec and Matteo Trentin.
“They still give us wins and results, maybe that’s enough,” added White. “When you look at the year, it’s been our most successful to date, but only two of those wins have come from a sprinter.”