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.
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!
Next Tuesday the Santos Tour Down Under kicks off in Unley. We are quite confident that the King of the Sprint competition will also have kicked off by the time the first 2017 WorldTour race comes to an end in Adelaide on Sunday 22 January.
Since top sprinters Mark Cavendish, André Greipel and Marcel Kittel didn’t travel to Australia this year, a lot of people expect world champion and multiple green jersey winner Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) to take the first King of the Sprint title in history.
But suppose …
… suppose Sagan doesn’t win, suppose he makes a mistake in the final sprint, suppose he doesn’t find a gap to dive in, suppose he has to let the peloton go because of a late puncture, or worse, suppose he crashes and has to leave the race. Or suppose he does become King of the Sprint but fails to successfully defend the title in the second sprint stage of the race. Then who would you put your money on?
Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) is certainly a rider who might beat Sagan on pure speed. But we’ll also keep an eye on Danilo Wyss (BMC Racing Team), Nikias Arndt (Team Sunweb), Danny Van Poppel (Team Sky), Mark Renshaw (Team Dimension Data) and Ben Swift (UAE Abu Dhabi)
And, who knows, maybe we’ll even get a surprise winner. There are exciting times ahead!
The first 2017 race for world champion and King of the Sprint number one favourite Peter Sagan, will be the Santos Tour Down Under (17-22 January).
The profile of the first stage suggests that we could already see a King of the Sprint title race on the very first day of the 2017 WorldTour. If the stage does indeed end in a mass sprint, its winner will write history, and put Lyndoch on the cycling map.
In our next post we will take a closer look at the start list of the Tour Down Under, and meet the other contenders for the first King of the Sprint title.