• Caleb Ewan at the start of Stage 1 of the 2018 Tour of Britain (Getty)Source: Getty
Fast man Caleb Ewan is closing his season and a four-year tenure with Mitchelton-Scott at the Tour of Britain this week, still stung from the denial of a publicly promised Tour de France debut.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
3 Sep 2018 - 11:31 AM  UPDATED 3 Sep 2018 - 11:37 AM

Ewan was in the mix on Stage 1 to Newport, Wales overnight, finishing second to Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) in a bunch kick, with Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) third.

It was a likely start for the candid Australian, so disappointed he considered throwing away the rest of the season following his shock Tour de France omission, which team management attributed to form and pundits to murky transfer politics.

“The Tour was my motivation for the year and then to miss that, it put me off a little bit,” he told Cycling Central before the start of the 174.8km undulating stage from Pembrey County Park.

“I had two options - I either could try and go for more results this year or take the rest of the year, not off but not as seriously. I think it would have been bad for my development, and my career, to really take off the rest of the year, so I still trained hard.”

In December, Mitchelton-Scott announced the star sprinter would make his long-awaited Tour debut, which Ewan  found out would not be the case just days before the squad was officially announced.

WATCH: In January, Caleb Ewan and Mitchelton-Scott discuss his Tour de France debut

Ewan had three wins to his name in the lead-up management said was not enough to warrant splitting resources with British climber Adam Yates as originally outlined. However, there was heavy speculation a rumoured and now confirmed transfer to Lotto Soudal was the real reason behind the oversight.

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The Milan-San Remo runner-up conceded he hasn’t been as prolific this season but also emphasised his consistency that at the Tour of California saw him repeatedly level alongside contemporary Gaviria, who was the reckoning sprint force in France.

“That was also after two months of no racing, so I think my form was coming along quite well.

"If the team told me that I had to be winning in California I would have done my training a little bit differently,” Ewan said.

“It’s been a disappointing year, but I haven’t been too far off the mark. I haven’t lost all my confidence or anything like that. I’m excited for next year and being in a team that is going to fully support my sprint ambitions.”

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Lotto Soudal first expressed interest in Ewan in 2016 but he opted to extend at an incarnation of Mitchelton-Scott. Two years later the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana stage winner couldn’t say no.

“With the team [Mitchelton-Scott] going more GC and Lotto being more a sprint and classics team, it was an easy decision in the end,” he said.

The 24-year-old will replace Greipel as Lotto Soudal's marquee sprinter from 2019, with teammate Roger Kluge also moving across. Greipel will embark on a solo move to Fortuneo-Samsic, with the German’s long-time lead-out man, Marcel Sieberg bound for Bahrain Merida.

“It’s good that I can take someone from my current train with me, someone that knows me well,” Ewan said of Kluge. “It’s going to be starting from scratch again next year with a new lead-out so to have someone come with me is a bit of a benefit and a bit of a head start I guess.

“I think they [Lotto Soudal] realised Andre was kind of coming toward the end of his career and they wanted someone coming through. I think I was probably one of the only sprinters on the market this year, one of the younger sprinters on the market, and they had an interest in me.”

In the immediate future is the Tour of Britain. Ewan won three stages here last season and hopes to finish this week, his season and chapter with Mitchelton-Scott in a similar style.

“I was looking at the profiles and it’s a bit more difficult than last year. There is always a climb right near the end, or a climb at the end. I think I’m going to have some pretty good form to repeat what I did last year,” he said.

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