Last Sunday we guessed that Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott), the reigning King of the Sprint, might defend his title in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on 29 January, but we had failed to notice this Cyclingnews article from the beginning of the month, in which Ewan was quoted as follows:
I’ll do Tour Down Under and the Australian Day crit here in Melbourne and after that I’m done here in Australia. I head to Europe first and then to South Africa. I have Abu Dhabi in between. They’re my first goals and hopefully I can get through those alright en route to San Remo.
This means Ewan will certainly ride the Abu Dhabi Tour from 23 to 26 February. But does it also mean he’ll race in Europe first, or will he just train there? And if he rides a European race, which one will it be?
Ewan did contest the Australian Day circuit race today, and, surprisingly, didn’t win. (Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) did.) Criteriums can never be King of the Sprint title races, however, so Ewan still holds the title, and will now take it out of Australia.
What a week for Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) at the Tour Down Under! And what a spectacular way to kick off our brand new King of the Sprint competition! By beating Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Marko Kump (UAE Abu Dhabi) in the Streets of Adelaide, Ewan took a record fourth consecutive King of the Sprint title.
On a side note, Sagan’s third second place in four mass sprint finishes is a record in itself.
What Ewan’s next race will be, hasn’t been officially announced yet, but if he stays in Australia, it might very well be the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on 29 January, which might then become our next (and fifth) title race of the season.
Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott), the world’s first double King of the Sprint, became the world’s first triple King of the Sprint in the Streets of Campbelltown, Australia today. For the third time in four days, he crossed the line first in a Tour Down Under stage. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) came second, Danny Van Poppel (Team Sky) got third. On Sunday, Ewan might well obtain a fourth successive title in the streets of Adelaide.
He did it again! In Victor Harbor, reigning King of the Sprint Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) also won the second mass sprint of the Tour Down Under, after he had taken home the first stage two days earlier. This time, he beat world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Niccolo Bonifazio (Bahrain-Merida) to the line. Needless to say, Ewan becomes the first rider ever to successfully defend the King of the Sprint title.
Friday’s stage to Campbelltown could see another mass sprint finish. If not, we’ll probably have to wait until Sunday’s final stage in Adelaide to witness the third title race of the season.
We already have a King! Somewhat surprisingly, in the first stage of the Tour Down Under, favourite Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) decided not to go for the win himself, but to be the lead-out man for his teammate Sam Bennett. Bennett didn’t win, however, as Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) easily outsprinted Danny Van Poppel (Team Sky) in Lyndoch to take the very first King of the Sprint title ever.
Tomorrow’s second stage will probably prove to be too hilly for the sprinters, but we might see a new (or the same) King crowned at the end of the third stage in Victor Harbor on Thursday.
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.