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.
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!
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.