• Caleb Ewan celebrates during the Tour de France (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
The 2020 Tour de France is almost ready to get underway, with Stage 1 ready to get racing action underway on August 29 set to suit sprinters, with one of the fastest at the moment being Australian star Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal).
SBS Cycling Central

27 Aug 2020 - 11:10 AM 

Caleb Ewan has set his objectives coming into the Tour de France, with stage wins the priority above a push for the green sprinters’ jersey.

"I'm not focussing on the green jersey to be honest," Ewan said. "The way the points work it's just not a competition that suits a pure sprinter. We haven't seen a pure sprinter win in years.

“I think not just Sagan but also [Wout] Van Aert who can climb and sprint. The days I can't get to the finish, they'll get there and get maximum points. Even the days when I can win, they're always top five or top 10 and always scoring points."

Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe) has a stranglehold on the green jersey competition in recent years, winning seven out of the eight tours he has competed in with the only loss the time he was disqualified during the 2017 Tour in contentious circumstances. There, he was well on his way to another green jersey and it has become somewhat a forgone conclusion from Ewan’s perspective.

"Maybe the day will come when I'm really close to winning it and I'll go for some intermediates,” said Ewan in an interview with Cyclingnews, “but right now I think it's too hard. Going for stages is hard enough and I think I'll focus on that."

A jersey of another colour beckons on Stage 1 of the race, with the yellow jersey up for grabs on what is a presumed sprint stage into Nice, though Ewan noted the difficulties of the course.

"Obviously the stage isn't going to be a straightforward sprint stage. It's a hard day," he said of the circuit which includes two category 3 climbs but has almost 40km of descending and flat roads before the finish. "I think the benefit for the sprinters is there is a lot of time to come back even if you do get dropped on the climb. There is a lot of time to come back in the valley, and usually at this time of year in the valley, there's a headwind, so that also makes it a bit easier to come back.”

"It really depends on how it's raced on the climbs and if there's a team that really wants to split it, it's going to be hard for us. I think there are good sprinters here with strong teams and that always helps. I hope that it's going to stay together for a bunch sprint."

Ewan was in good form early in the season, but his condition has a lacking a bit since the season restart, dropped in the sprinter’s monument, Milan Sanremo, well out from the finish.

"Milan Sanremo was my second race back [after] five months without racing, and we were straight into a race that was seven, eight hours long,” said Ewan. “On Saturday the race isn't going to be seven hours long.

“By the time we hit the Cipressa, we had already had seven hours of riding and it was super hot also, so that made a big difference. I've heard it's going to be maybe rainy so I think the lower temperatures will suit me better."

There’s going to be fewer top-tier sprinters at the Tour de France this year, with Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Peter Sagan, Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT Pro Cycling), Elia Viviani (Cofidis), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) the main fast men to take on Ewan. It might mean a few more opportunities for the breakaways on the harder sprint stages.

"It could be some days hard for the sprint teams, but I remember last year there was maybe only three teams controlling for a sprint anyway,” said Ewan. “I think it's going to be pretty similar to last year. The main teams to help are usually QuickStep and last year we had Jumbo helping a lot.

“Obviously, this year they probably won't be pulling for the sprint stages but they might (for van Aert). Maybe there are fewer teams that are going to help, but hopefully it won't make much of a difference."

SBS will broadcast the 2020 Tour de France, starting on Saturday 29 August on SBS HD and streaming on SBS ON DEMAND as well as the SBS ŠKODA Tour Tracker.