Ballarat, Australia – JANUARY 7: during the 2018 Feduni Cycling Australia Road National Championships, Elite Men,185.6km Road Race (16 x 11.6km laps) in Buninyong, Ballarat, Australia, on January 7, 2018. Photo Credit: CON CHRONIS

23-year-old Australian Caleb Ewan sprinted to victory today in his first European race of the season, the Clasica de Almeria.

After a strong start to the year with a stage win at the Tour Down Under, Ewan carried his form over to Europe, beating Danny van Popple (LottoNL-Jumbo) to take the victory in the 185kilometre one-day race.

Early breakaway

After just seven kilometres of racing, seven riders formed the main breakaway of the day and rode out to a maximum advantage of four minutes 30seconds. Mitchelton-SCOTT, with desires for a bunch sprint, headed to the front and used Roman Kreuziger in the opening stages to control the distance to the leaders with some welcomed help from LottoNL-Jumbo and Bora-Hansgrohe.

Re-united with the lead-out train

Once the breakaway was caught with 35kilometres to go, Mitchelton-SCOTT worked to follow the attacks and keep things together ahead of the sprint. Finally re-united with his lead-out train, Ewan was able to avoid crashes in the final and navigate through the peloton before launching from the wheel of Luka Mezgec to the victory.

Caleb Ewan – 1st Clasica de Almeria

“It’s really good to hit the ground running in my first European race and it was good to have the full lead-out squad behind me today. We were all a bit lost after getting caught behind a crash but once we all got back together and started the lead-out, no-one came round us and I am happy I was able to finish it off.

“I haven’t raced with these lead-out guys since the Tour of Britain so that’s a fair chunk of time away. It is good to get the confidence back in working together and that nothing has really changed, that is what we needed going into these next big races.

“I felt pretty tired during the day because we did five hours training yesterday, so I didn’t feel great but in the final when the adrenalin kicks in I felt alright and overall it was a good day.”

Matt White – Head Sport Director

“It isn’t the biggest race we do on the calendar but you still have to win them, and the boys did a great job of controlling the race and we nailed it in the final.

“The boys had the breakaway under control the whole time, Kreuziger and Chris Juul-Jensen rode all day and then once it came back it got quite stressful and windy as we entered the finishing circuits. Jack Bauer came to the front to keep the guys in good position and then Matteo Trentin had to do a big effort to bring us back up to the front after the boys caught caught out a little bit behind a crash.

“Today was a really good practice for the guys, Roger Kluge, Mezgec and Bauer will all be with racing together with Caleb in Abu Dhabi. It is the first time the quartet has worked together so we are starting to go through the motions now getting ready for the races coming up.

“It has also been a big weekend for these guys, when you look at the work Kreuziger, Juul-Jensen and Trentin have done these past two days it has been 400kilometres or more of racing and it is only going to benefit them and help them get to top condition.”

Clasica de Almeria results:
1. Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-SCOTT)
2. Danny van Popple (LottoNL-Jumbo)
3. Timothy Dupont (Wanty-Gobert)