It’s not that King of the Sprint Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) didn’t race during the past few weeks. He did take part in a few Classics, none of which, however, ended in a mass sprint finish.
Ewan’s next race will probably be the Giro d’Italia, where he will meet strong opposition, so we expect some nice sprint duels. The first possible title race is the race’s very first stage on Friday 5 May, from Alghero to Olbia.
We were looking forward to today’s third Tirreno-Adriatico stage, because it would be the first chance for the sprinters in the Italian stage race, and King of the Sprint Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) was taking part. Until he crashed out of the second stage yesterday, that is. DNF Ewan and gone was the chance for a seventh title race. Luckily, we’ll soon see Ewan race again:
So, Milan-Sanremo could be our next title race, although the season’s first Monument is rarely decided in a real mass sprint.
After Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) took the first King of the Sprint title in Australia, then took it to Abu Dhabi, where he first lost and then regained it, he will finally bring it to Europe, by riding Tirreno-Adriatico from 8 to 14 March.
In Italy, he will meet Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) again, who got second behind Ewan three times in the Tour Down Under, and Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data), who won the first stage in the Abu Dhabi Tour, when Ewan crashed. And then there is Fernando Gaviria (Quick Step Floors), who beat Ewan last year in Tirreno-Adriatico.
The first sprint chance will probably be stage 3, from Monterotondo Marittimo to Montalto di Castro.
Caleb Ewan’s (Orica-Scott) Abu Dhabi Tour didn’t start very well, with a crash in stage 1 and a certain victory in stage 2 lost after celebrating too early, but he put things right again in the fourth and final stage today, a 143 km circuit race on the Yas Marina Formula One circuit.
After a day in the rain, Ewan got the better of rivals Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) and André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), who has yet to win his first title race.
By winning the final stage, Ewan makes sure that at least a few extra days are added to his reign, which started on the first day of the Tour Down Under in January and was only interrupted for a few days this week in Abu Dhabi. We know that he will compete in Milano-Sanremo on 18 March, but it isn’t clear yet where he will race in the weeks leading up to that event.
It looks as if every great sprinter wants to hold the KOTS title at least once. After Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) had himself crowned King after the first stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour yesterday, that other present-day sprinting legend Marcel Kittel (Quick Step Floors) took the win – and the title – today.
Until the very end of the sprint, everyone watching thought quadruple sprint king Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) would take the title back from Cavendish, but he started celebrating a fraction too early, and got beaten by Kittel’s final jump.
The next KOTS title race will probably be stage 4, on the Yas Marina Formula One circuit.
The fifth KOTS title race in history finally saw a change of power in the sprint kingdom, when Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data), arguably the best sprinter ever, beat rival André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Niccolo Bonifazio (Bahrain-Merida) in Madinat Zayed at the finish of the first stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour.
Reigning King of the Sprint Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) couldn’t defend his chances properly, though, as he got involved in a crash a kilometre from the line, which also brought down co-favourite Marcel Kittel (Quick Step Floors).
Can Cavendish also achieve a double – or even a triple? This time tomorrow, we might already know!
Tomorrow the show that is the UCI WorldTour will move to the Middle East, when the Abu Dhabi Tour kicks off, and also the King of the Sprint sideshow will continue in the same location, since quadruple King Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) chose Abu Dhabi for his first race after his four Tour Down Under wins.
Retaining his title won’t be easy for Ewan, however, since the competition will be stronger than ever. To name a few of the champions that will probably try to take over the King of the Sprint title already at the end of the first stage: Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data), Marcel Kittel (Quick Step Floors), André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Elia Viviani (Team Sky).
We’re looking forward to an exciting week!