• Australian cyclist Caleb Ewan has moved teams from Mitchelton Scott to Lotto Soudal (AAP)Source: AAP
Rising star Caleb Ewan has confirmed that he will move to Belgian squad Lotto Soudal for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
Cycling Central

9 Aug 2018 - 9:45 AM  UPDATED 9 Aug 2018 - 9:52 AM

Ewan is Australia's best sprinter at present and regularly mixes it up with the world's best. He was second this year at Milan San Remo, winning the bunch sprint and only denied victory by a lone attack from Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida). 

Ewan then went into preparation for his next main objective of the 2018 season, a debut appearance at the Tour de France. He was controversially not selected by the Australian-registered Mitchelton-Scott team for the race, reneging on a public commitment made back in December, 2017.

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Ewan's move to Lotto Soudal comes as long-time sprint star Andre Greipel announced that he would leave the team for a role with French Pro-Continental squad Fortuneo-Samsic. Ewan will take on the role as the team's main leader in fast finishes after signing a two-year deal.

"The opportunity to join Lotto Soudal was for me an important and incredibly exciting one," said Ewan. "They are a team that has a great history concerning sprinters and classics, I spent many hours as a youngster marveling at Robbie McEwen’s victories.

"More recently I can only say I have nothing but enormous respect for Andre Greipel, what he achieved as a rider and what he stood for as a person. But now together with Lotto Soudal I hope to write an exciting, new chapter.”

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Aside from the specific incidents this season, Ewan said he felt opportunities for team leadership would be better with the Belgian squad, with Mitchelton-Scott more focused on general classification success in grand tours. 

“I think for me the decision to take this path with Lotto Soudal has been a logical one if you take the emotion out of it, but we have much hard work ahead to make sure it becomes the perfect match. I do feel the path Mitchelton Scott are now on is one not suited to me but I have nothing but appreciation and respect for the riders and entire organisation. I have learnt and experienced so much during the past four years, I have many life-long friends there and I am sincerely grateful to them.”

Ewan's progression from the junior ranks to elite competition has been tightly watched for a long time by keen observers of the sport. His sprinting talent has never been in question and with his slight frame compared to other fast men, Ewan is able to hang tough on the climbs better than his heavier-set counterparts.

“How do I describe myself? As a pure but versatile sprinter who is well suited to slightly uphill finishes. The past few years I have worked a lot on becoming stronger which allows me to remain a contender during a tough finale. I will continue to work hard on my preparation together with Lotto Soudal and we will aim to be up there in Classics such as Milan-San Remo, amongst others.”

Ewan is part of a young cadre of sprinters that is making its presence felt on the WorldTour scene. Riders like Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo), Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) and Pascal Ackermann (BORA-hansgrohe) are regularly beating the former champions of the sprint.

“Although we have many legends still racing very well," said Ewan, "we’re in a transition to a next generation of sprinters at the moment. There are a lot of good young sprinters that I obviously want to be a key part of and to do that I will need to continue to make further progress - with my new teammates. There’s not one team that currently dominates the sprints, but Lotto Soudal possesses both the experience and the desire to again build a very strong team for sprints.”

“This is a multi-year plan of natural progress: building a sprint train with guys who have the capabilities to ride the finale of the most important bike races, forming a team with the riders on and off the bike and creating important routines by racing together consistently. However this doesn’t mean that we aren’t eager to get some nice results in the first year.”