The Tour of Beijing was not Caleb Ewan’s first WorldTour race, that honour went to the 2014 Santos Tour Down Under in January, but his promise as a world class sprinter was realised at the end of the five-day race in China.
By
Cycling Central

7 Apr 2015 - 5:20 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:34 PM

Twenty-year-old Ewan (Orica-GreenEDGE) finished second in the Beijing opener, just off the pace set by Luca Mezgec (Giant-Shimano). The sprint was messy but the team managed to drop him off with 200 metres to go before the drag race with his more experienced rival.

"I'm convinced that he's one of the fastest guys here and I wouldn't be surprised if he can take a win here in Beijing, and that would be huge for a 20-year-old WorldTour debutant," said Orica-GreenEDGE sports director Matt White.

"He's ready to compete with the best and he showed that with his finish today."

After finishing midfield on Stage 2, he then managed 10th on the tricky third stage, swept up in the finale by the veteran sprinters, including the winner, Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp). But that placing was not the whole story. He was in the mix until the final 100 metres after Orica-GreenEDGE opted to take an aggressive approach, which may have cost them the win.

"There was two options to approach today's sprint," said White. "One was to take it from the front and lead it out as our guys did and the other one was to risk a little bit and come through from behind.

"I think the guys did an excellent job, they dropped Caleb off where they needed to, I don't think it was too early, it was just a very very fast sprint."

The mountainous Stage 4 was not to the sprinters' liking, so a day in the grupetto was always on the cards. Then came Stage 5, the finale in Beijing, a flat fast city circuit which would give Ewan his second top-ten placing at the Tour. With the exception of a hard-to-earn stage win it was job done. The three results gave him a 7th placing in the points competition.

As White said, it will take time for Ewan to develop. He still has to learn the mechanics of a fully structured leadout, a rare event in the under 23 scene, and to trust that the men paid to deliver him to the drop off point will do just that. Later on he should develop the confidence to direct that leadout once he earns their respect as a rider who can finish the job.

The two unknowns for Ewan is how his renowned finishing speed will translate at World Tour level. Will it still be there after a high speed 200 plus kilometre stage?

The second is his size. He is a small, something made more obvious when he lines up for a sprint against much bigger men, will he be shunted off his preferred position or does he have the necessary aggressiveness to demand his place in the peloton at high speed?

All in all, it was a professional first up hit-out for Ewan and the team as he enters brave new territory as a rider to watch in 2015.