• Caleb Ewan (C) beat Steele Von Hoff (L) and Brenton Jones (R) to claim his fourth national criterium title. (Kathryn Watt)
Caleb Ewan won his third-straight criterium title on day one of the road nationals, while Rebecca Wiasak took out the women's race.
By
Cycling Central

Source:
AAP
4 Jan - 5:26 AM  UPDATED 4 Jan - 7:57 AM

Australian cycling star Caleb Ewan has made the perfect start to the biggest year of his skyrocketing career.

The 23-year-old sprint ace was too good on Wednesday night, blasting clear on the finishing straight to win his third-straight Australian criterium championship.

Tucked low in his trademark sprinting style, Ewan finished comfortably ahead of former winner Steele von Hoff, while Brenton Jones was third.

Mitchelton-Scott has confirmed that Ewan will make his much-anticipated Tour de France debut this July after several years of steady development.

Wednesday was Ewan's first race of the year - previously he'd built up to the nationals by racing at the Bay Classic criteriums, but that series was put on hold this year.

The unusual preparation did nothing to blunt the speed of one of the world's top fast men.

"The feeling of winning never really gets old, so it's good to get the year off to a good start again," Ewan said.

"It's not the biggest race I do for the year, but it's really good to get the confidence boost at the start of the season."

Ewan has massive ambitions for the season, especially with the Tour now on his radar.

"Obviously as a rider, your dream is to race the Tour de France," he said.

"Just starting it is going to be exciting and then hopefully I'm going for a stage win as well, it could be a bonus."

Ewan said this was the strongest Mitchelton-Scott team he has had supporting him at the Australian criterium championship and they looked after him superbly.

He was in perfect position for the finish and was too strong for his rivals.

Ewan will be a contender in Sunday's nationals road race and he has finished runner-up in that event.

But the Buninyong circuit does not suit the sprinters and the weather will be crucial for his chances.

If it is a headwind on the tough Buninyong climb, he is a chance - if it is a tailwind, Ewan most likely will not be a factor.

"It really depends on the conditions, to how well I can go," he said.

Earlier on day one of the nationals, two-time world track champion Rebecca Wiasak won her first senior Australian road title when she took out the elite women's criterium.

Wiasak showed her strength, surprising her rivals to win the elite women's criterium title ahead of Sarah Roy (Mitchelton-Scott) and Kimberley Wells (Holden-Gusto).

Despite being is in the midst of intense training to aim to qualify for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Wiasak showed her power, sprinting to the line on the uphill Sturt Street finish.

Despite being littered by attacks throughout the race it came down to a bunch sprint with Wiasak striking out and overhauling her rivals to take the title.

"I'm thrilled to win today. I didn't have a lead out, I'm here by myself as I don’t have a team here in Australia. I'm committed to the track program to try and make the Commonwealth Games in April so that's a priority," Wiasak said.

Cameron Scott and Kristina Clonan won the under-23 titles, while Stephen Cuff and Sarah Gigante took out the under-19 races.

The Cycling Australia FedUni Road nATIONAL championships continue on Thursday at Buninyong with the individual time trials for para cycling and the men's under-19s and under-23.