• Caleb Ewan held off Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel in a bunch sprint at the recent Abu Dhabi Tour. (ANSA)Source: ANSA
Caleb Ewan will get his first crack at the Milan-San Remo this Saturday with the 291 kilometre race sure to test the 22 year old's mettle.
Cycling Central

16 Mar 2017 - 12:03 PM 

The famed race is a favourite race of the Australian World Tour squad, in 2012 it was the scene of their first big success as a team. Simon Gerrans swept to an unlikely victory as part of a late attack and will again be on the startline for the Italian monument. 

Alongside the 2012 champion will be two of Orica-Scott’s youngest and most talented sprinters, Dane Magnus Cort and Australian Caleb Ewan, will line up at Milan – San Remo this weekend.

At just 22 years of age, Cyclassics Hamburg winner Ewan will use the opportunity to gain valuable experience, having yet tackled a race of this distance. He was also an early withdrawal at last year's world championships so it will be an achievement for him to make the distance with the front bunch.

"Caleb hasn’t had the ideal preparation having to withdraw from Tirreno-Adriatico followed his crash," said Sports Director Matt White, "but he has been training well at home."

"For Caleb, this year is more about experience. We expect the distance to be a difficult task which is natural for a young rider who has yet to challenge himself in a race situation for this duration.

"But it is a race he is passionate about and we will hopefully see him feature even more in the future."

The race is typically regarded as the monument where sprinters have the best chance of a victory and so it should be seen as a natural part of Ewan's career progression. He has shown that he has the capacity to beat the best, toppling Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel at the recent Abu Dhabi Tour and now just needs to show that he can repeat the feat over longer distances.

With Ewan's recent fall and subsequent abandonment at Tirreno-Adriatico the pint-sized Aussie may not be in the best condition and so Magnus Cort enters the race with joint leadership. The young Dane is far from a Plan B however with two wins in Spain earlier this season as well as a pair of Grand Tour victories last year in bunch sprints.

"Magnus has some experience with races over 250km from the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix so we are confident he can take another step up in distance for Milan- San Remo this weekend," White said.

Supporting Cort, Ewan and Gerrans is an experienced group that includes Mathew Hayman, Michael Albasini, Daryl Impey, Jens Keukeleire and Luka Mezgec.

The team will look to conserve energy before the race ‘builds to a crescendo’ into the final with the famous set of climbs over the Cipressa and the Poggio before the flat finish on the Via Roma.

"It’s a long and nervous day," White explained. "The action really heats up in the last 30km with the Cipressa before the Poggio often sees fireworks as riders roll the dice ahead of the sprint."

Both Cort and Ewan will have to fight off a star-studded field if they want to take what would be an unlikely win against the likes of world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Olympic gold medallist Greg van Avermaet (BMC), sprinters Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Merida), Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) all considered big chances for the win.