• Aussie Caleb Ewan has extended his deal at Lotto Soudal until 2024 (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) has said that he'll mainly focus on the 2022 World Championships road race in the second half of the season, with the race to be held in Wollongong next year.
By
Jamie Finch-Penninger

25 Oct - 2:08 PM  UPDATED 25 Oct - 2:10 PM

While the route for the 2022 world championships road race is yet to be released to the public, there's one rider who's apparently seen it, with Ewan saying that he can win on the course, with the race to be his major focus for the back half of the 2022 season.

"The World Championships will take place in Wollongong in Australia next year. I can win there," Ewan said in an interview with Wielerflits. "In the second half of the season, I will mainly focus on that race.

"The Vuelta will probably not be the best preparation for it. My program is not fixed yet, but for now I would say that I won't start there."

Ewan planned an ambitious three Grand Tour campaign last year, with the aim of taking stage wins in each of the races, which would have been the first time the feat had been accomplished since 2003. 

"Not next year, I think," Ewan said, when asked about the prospect of another bid at the Grand Tour 'stage win triple'.

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The star Aussie rider was keen to get into the next season, after his 2021 racing was curtailed by injury, with a crash at the Tour de France in Stage 3 taking him out of contention for much of the rest of the races. With the Australian considered one of the best sprinters in the world, there has been more of a focus on his leadout, after a mixed season for his current train to lead him into the flat finishes.

"Some strong riders will be added to the team," Ewan said. "We have two more training camps before we race together so I'll get to know them there.

"Normally it takes a few races before everyone is well matched, but I think with a good program – with a lot of sprint opportunities – that should happen quickly. Then we can move on to bigger races."

One of the new riders is Jarrad Drizners, the neo-professional Australian joining the Belgian squad which also hosts fellow Aussie youngster Harry Sweeny. Ewan was asked how well he knew the new addition to the team.

“Not so good yet," said Ewan. "He's a bit younger than me, but it's nice to have another Australian on the team. Harry Sweeny, a compatriot who joined the team last year, immediately had a very good first year. We hope that Jarrad can also start his WorldTour career well.”

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Jarrad Drizners, a two-time national U23 champion (road race 2020, criterium 2019) has signed a neo-professional contract for two years with WorldTour squad Lotto Soudal.
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In terms of early season objectives, there was little beating around the bush, with Ewan keen to make the 'sprinters' monument' - Milan San Remo - his own after two runner-up finishes there in the past.

"Of course there are races where I want to perform at the beginning of the season, but the big goal is Milan-San Remo," said Ewan. "It's the only Monument I can win so it's logical for me to go for it. As I've shown in previous editions, it's definitely a race I can win."

Lotto-Soudal also have Philippe Gilbert in the squad, with the legend of the sport still looking to complete his collection of monument wins, with only Milan San Remo missing at present. Gilbert wasn't able to make it over the final climb of the Poggio this year with the top contenders, but still may figure in the final choices for team leadership at the race.

"It's up for discussion, but on the other hand I've also had editions where I left the peloton on the Cipressa," said Ewan. "There's less pressure on me if there are teammates who can ride for a result if I don't have a good day. It's a long way off now, but by then we'll see who's in good shape."

Caleb Ewan crashes out of the Tour de France on Stage 3.