• Caleb Ewan capped off the work of his teammates to win the 2016 Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships Criterium (Kathryn Watt)Source: Kathryn Watt
Caleb Ewan made the most of perfect teamwork from Orica-GreenEDGE to win his first senior national road title.
By
AAP

Source:
AAP
7 Jan 2016 - 5:47 AM 

Caleb Ewan's rapidly-blooming career has reached another milestone, with the Australian star winning his first senior elite national championship.

The 21-year-old sprint ace and his Orica-GreenEDGE teammates dominated the elite's men criterium on Wednesday night at the Mars Australian titles in Ballarat.

Ewan said post-race that his overriding emotion was relief.

"I was clearly a favourite for today and obviously there's a fair of pressure going into a race as the favourite," Ewan said.

"But I can't fault the team at all, they rode it perfectly.

"They gave me such an easy ride out there ... that's what makes the difference at the end."

Last year, Ewan only had former teammate Leigh Howard for support when he finished second in the nationals criterium.

Ewan then also impressed with second place as part of a full Orica-GreenEDGE lineup in the nationals road race.

This time, he had much stronger support for the criterium and they dominated.

Rivals tried to usurp the Orica-GreenEDGE sprint train on the last lap and the frantic jockeying for position caused Neil Van Der Ploeg (Avanti IsoWhey) to crash.

But teammate Alex Edmondson gave Ewan a perfect leadout through and the second-year professional won by several lengths.

Brenton Jones (Drapac) was second and 2012 criterium champion Anthony Giacoppo (Avanti IsoWhey) took third.

The Orica-GreenEDGE men made no errors and Ewan continues to show he is a ruthlessly-efficient sprinter.

Wednesday's national title came two days after Ewan won the Mitchelton Bay Classic criterium series for the third time.

"Today is just nice to come away and not show that last year was sort of a fluke," Ewan said.

While Ewan showed last year he can be a big factor on the hilly Buninyong circuit, he is unsure what his role will be in Sunday's road race.

Two-time champion Simon Gerrans will return from injury to lead Orica-GreenEDGE.

"To be honest, I really don't know what the team is going to make me do," Ewan said.

But he admitted to lofty ambitions if the race pans out to his advantage.

"I'm still looking forward to the road race, that's the big one you really want to win, so hopefully I can go well there as well," he said.