• Alexander Edmondson will get his first hitout in the national champion jersey in support of team-mate Caleb Ewan. (Kathryn Watt)Source: Kathryn Watt
Newly minted Australian road cycling champion Alex Edmondson will join sprinting point man Caleb Ewan in the Mitchelton--Scott team for the Tour Down Under.
Cycling Central

10 Jan 2018 - 8:52 AM  UPDATED 10 Jan 2018 - 9:54 AM

The seven-man team heads into the first WorldTour race of the year focused on stage wins with Ewan rather than overall honours on the final day of racing.

The line-up also includes 2016 Paris-Roubaix winner Mat Hayman, 2011 Tour Down Under champion Cameron Meyer, Daryl Impey, new recruit Jack Bauer and super-domestique Damien Howson making it the best possible combination to deliver Ewan to the finish.

Edmondson said it would be a special feeling to wear his green and gold champion's jersey for the first time on the roads where he trains.

Edmondson crowned men's 2018 RoadNats champion
Alex Edmondson (Mitchelton-Scott) held on after his late attack to be crowned the men's 2018 RoadNats Australian champion.

"It was a very special day on Sunday but now it's back to business in helping my teammates. I need to return the favour," he said.

"This year the course has some solid stages in it which is going to make for some exciting racing. For sure there will be a couple of days which will most likely come down to a bunch gallop."

In those stages it will be up to the team to get Ewen to the front, putting the pocket rocket in the best position to repeat his heroics from last year's tour when he won four stages and the sprinter's jersey.

But Ewen said there were fewer opportunities for the fast men in this year's race and the quality of the field was tougher.

"This year, the sprint field is a lot better than it's been in the past two years so it's definitely going to be challenging," he said.

With world champion Peter Sagan, two-time tour winner Andre Greipel and Italian fast man Ella Viviani also riding, Mitchelton-Scott sports director Matt White said the quality of the sprint field was probably the best in the 20-year history of the race.

"When you look at how many sprint opportunities there are between now and July you have to make them all count, so the higher the level of competition the better for us as we prepare Caleb for a debut at the Tour de France," White said.

Criterium wins for Ewan and Wiasak at roadnats
Caleb Ewan won his third-straight criterium title on day one of the road nationals, while Rebecca Wiasak took out the women's race.