• Caleb Ewan held off Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel in a bunch sprint at the recent Abu Dhabi Tour. (ANSA)Source: ANSA
Caleb Ewan turned the tables on his Abu Dhabi Tour campaign and ended it on a high beating Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel in a drag race to win the fourth and final stage.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
27 Feb 2017 - 7:19 AM  UPDATED 27 Feb 2017 - 7:32 AM

The out-and-out victory on the Formula One Yas Marina Circuit came after a dramatic tour in which he cost himself a win celebrating prematurely on stage two and suffered a late crash in the opener.

Neither of the two misfortunes apparently impacted on his confidence or that of his Orica-Scott team, which boldly committed early and drove the pace at the front of the bunch for the final 10km.

A beaming Ewan described the victory against two of cycling’s most decorated sprinters as the most encouraging of his career to date.

“I think it’s the one that has given me the most confidence out of all of my sprints,” he said.

“These guys are the ones that are setting the benchmark for sprinting at the moment and to be able to beat them is a massive thing for me. It shows my progression over time and hopefully, I can keep progressing this way and beat them in some bigger races as well.”

The Australian national criterium champion is obviously adept at circuit racing and put his knowledge to good use, asking his team on the wet track to commit when it did.

“We didn’t speak about it so much at the start but when we came to that slow part after the last intermediate I said to the guys maybe we should just take it from the front,” Ewan explained. “If you leave it too late on a circuit like this you run the risk of losing each other and then you might not be able to use half the team. We committed early, we used everyone in the team and they all did a fantastic job, no one came around in the end.”

Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) lost position and sat up before the sprint. Cavendish (Dimension Data) and Greipel (Lotto Soudal) were also further back coming into the last corner, which Roger Kluge accelerated out of with Ewan on his wheel, again giving him open road to launch.

“The more we work together the more confident he is becoming in being the last man in the lead-out,” Ewan said.

“He had to go super early but he stayed calm and used some other guys from other teams first, and still had a lot of acceleration in the end. That was perfect for me, he really accelerated out of the corner and brought me up to speed so I didn’t have to kick so hard when I came off his wheel.”

Cavendish slipped on the last corner with about a kilometre of the rain-soaked 143km race remaining but didn’t use it as an excuse for his result.

“There was a guy coming from the outside, I had to take it a little bit sharp and I lost it. You lose momentum,” he said. “Whether I would have come around him [Ewan] or not I don’t know anyway. He was going fast.

“I was happy. [Pilot Mark] Renshaw was really good, and I did the best I could. I can’t really be pissed.”
Greipel was on Cavendish’s wheel and also lost momentum but equally paid Ewan full credit.

“I kept the wheel of Cav because I was hoping Renshaw somehow can place him a bit better than we were. We were actually too far [back] in the last corner, but I cannot prevent it because I have to somehow poke a little bit. We lost momentum but I think with Caleb the best and fastest one, and I can be happy.”

Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) secured the overall title for the newly minted WorldTour race.