• Cavendish-esque... Caleb Ewan's sprinting profile is uncannily similar to Mark Cavendish. (AAP)Source: AAP
The comparisons are inevitable and, based on what we've seen so far, warranted - but what if Caleb Ewan wants to be more than just a sprinter, wonders Anthony Tan?
Cycling Central
18 Jan 2016 - 6:08 PM  UPDATED 19 Jan 2016 - 9:26 AM

Their head-on sprinting profile is uncannily similar yet between Caleb Ewan, who won Sunday's People's Choice Classic, and Mark Cavendish, twenty-six times a stage winner at the Tour de France, ten centimetres and almost ten kilograms separate the two.

"Ever since he was a junior, Ewan's had people telling him how good he can be, how good he will be; so far, he's delivered."

According to his bio on the Cycling Australia website, 21-year-old Ewan is 165cm and 61kg, while letour.fr puts Cav' at 175cm and 70kg.

"He's got the same attitude as Mark Cavendish. He sprints like him, he's not afraid of anybody," Phil Liggett said of Ewan back in January 2013, who saw him win his first of three Bay Cycling Classic titles.

Two years ago, aged 19, when he rode his first Tour Down Under as part of the UniSA team, Ewan finished third behind Marcel Kittel and André Greipel in the warm-up race he won Sunday. Neither Kittel or Greipel - nor Cavendish, Peter Sagan and Alexander Kristoff, for that matter - are here for the TDU, so speed-wise, it's hard to guage exactly how much the New South Welshman has progressed in that time.

"He's got a similar build to Cavendish, but he climbs better," Mark Renshaw, Cavendish's ever-reliable lead-out man, told VeloNews' Andrew Hood back in January 2014. "Maybe he doesn't have that pure punch that Cav' does. He's got all the makings."

What we do know is that Ewan, by winning the fifth stage of last year's Vuelta a España, did something all of the aforementioned sans Kittel did not do: win a Grand Tour stage in their first year as a professional. (Kittel also won a stage of the Vuelta in his neo-pro year, aged 23.)

His Orica-GreenEDGE team challenged him to win five races last season - he did that before leaving the country for Malaysia's Tour de Langkawi, where he won two stages and the points classification. By season's end, Ewan notched 10 UCI victories on his 2015 palmarès including that win at the Vuelta, where he beat John Degenkolb and Sagan.

"He's someone Australian cycling has never seen — a phenomenon," 2004 Tour Down Under champion Patrick Jonker told the Sydney Morning Herald's Rupert Guinness, back when Ewan was a 19-year-old upstart. "You probably go back to Eddy Merckx for the last prodigy child. I'm not saying he's in that category, but he's awfully close."

Ever since he was a junior, Ewan's had people telling him how good he can be, how good he will be; so far, he's delivered. Though as Renshaw remarked two years ago, "he needs to remember that it's a long road to being the best sprinter in the world".

Nonetheless, Renshaw also said this about him: "I'm going to piss Cav' off and say he's probably better than Mark Cavendish."

Maybe Caleb isn't intent on 'just' being the best sprinter in the world, though...

Maybe, just maybe, he wants to be the best, period.

What will become of Caleb Ewan?
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