There isn’t a such factor as second place for Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan.
You are both the winner of a motorbike race, or the primary loser.
Quick males just like the Lotto Dstny spearhead thrive off victories, particularly within the lead-up to and through the Tour de France, the place the momentum generated by triumphs typically spurs extra success.
Ewan isn’t brief on motivation, however he was brief on momentum within the lead-up to the one hundred and tenth version of the Tour, along with his urge for food for acting on biking’s greatest phases additionally starved.
“Fairly common” was how the 28-year-old described his season earlier than the beginning of the race, counting one official victory, a string of minor placings and two picture finishes that commissaries didn’t adjudicate in his favour.
Ewan could not see the distinction within the first, and nonetheless thinks he ought to have been awarded the second.
“I have not actually gained a lot. I’ve solely gained one race, so I imply, for me, that is the one approach you possibly can decide a season, is off wins,” he mentioned.
“I do not assume my kind has been notably dangerous or something like that. I have been fairly unfortunate a couple of occasions.”
Getting into the Tour, the five-time stage winner wasn’t certain the place he would land in what’s a stacked dash discipline that Belgian Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) is presently dominating, taking his third victory on stage seven in Bordeaux on Friday, with Olympic observe medallist Sam Welsford (Staff dsm-firmenich) the best-placed Australian, ending thirteenth in what’s his Tour debut.
Ewan’s program within the lead-up regarded totally different to earlier years, with even some staff personnel questioning why he was competing in smaller races throughout Belgium versus the larger, extra famend occasions on the calendar.
Ewan would usually begin the Giro d’Italia, the place he has gained a profession 5 phases, within the run to the Tour however the staff, after being relegated to the game’s second tier final yr, opted to not compete.
He requested to go to the Criterium du Dauphine in June, a standard litmus take a look at for the Tour, however the request was denied, and he competed on the Tour of Belgium as a substitute.
“It is most likely the one race of the yr that I get excited for,” Ewan mentioned of the Tour de France.
“I really like the massive stage, excessive stress, it is a large occasion and I like that. I a lot choose that than doing smaller races in Belgium, it would not actually excite me that a lot, to be sincere.”
Ewan joined the Belgian-registered Lotto Dstny staff in 2019 partly to race on the Tour, having been held again from it at his earlier squad.
He successfully changed German champion Andre Greipel as a figurehead and entered acutely aware of proving the hyperbole that Australian press had positioned on his slight shoulders since he was a youngster.
On reflection, Ewan described the psychological stress of his Tour debut as unhealthy, additionally together with the untimely beginning of his first little one earlier than it, however he nonetheless gained three phases.
He claimed one other two victories the subsequent season and have become a degree of reference within the WorldTour, the game’s top-tier, inserting an emphasis on high quality over amount victories.
However his fortunes on the Tour have modified throughout latest seasons, with Ewan fracturing his collarbone in 4 locations in a crash on stage three in 2021 and ending winless final yr.
Though his preparation this season was totally different in comparison with earlier, he mentioned he was nonetheless pleased with it and entered the Tour with a transparent concept of what would represent a profitable marketing campaign.
“Positively a win, however I hope for greater than only one,” Ewan mentioned. “If I left with none, I might be very disillusioned.”
Within the opening week, Ewan has been within the combine with Philipsen twice, ending third on stage three and second on stage 4.
“It is good figuring out that I’ve the legs to win. I simply want all the pieces to go proper for me. I am constructive and the staff’s constructive we will nonetheless win right here,” he mentioned after stage 4.
Nonetheless, the causalities Lotto Dstny has incurred had been felt in Bordeaux the place Ewan was squeezed out of the competition and virtually crashed, he mentioned, shedding momentum some 500m from the road.
Philipsen, who entered the Tour because the sprinter to beat, believes his benefit is the power of his lead-out that features Dutch champion Mathieu van der Poel.
Ewan has already misplaced of one in every of his key lead-out males in Jacopo Guarnieri, who crashed out on stage 4. And one other chief lieutenant, Jasper de Buyst, remains to be managing an injured wrist from a fall on stage two.
De Buyst wasn’t concerned in Ewan’s first two sprints however helped to place him on the finish of Friday’s scorching 169.9km run from Mont-de-Marsan.
“After I crashed, I believed, ‘f–k, that is it,’ however day after day it is getting higher,” de Buyst mentioned. “I am nonetheless in ache however I can maintain my handlebar and do my effort.”
Ewan’s disappointment on Friday was apparent within the paddock, the place he instantly boarded the staff bus post-race and got here out to talk to media later as soon as modified.
He’s competing on the Tour with out the presence of his household, along with his spouse anticipating their third little one after the race ends in Paris on July 23.
“The primary Tour I went to, my daughter was like approach sooner than she ought to have been, she was supposed to come back after the Tour however she got here a month earlier than the Tour, in order that’s why my spouse has to actually take it straightforward, just like the final two months earlier than the newborn is due, simply to ensure it stays in there and retains cooking for a bit longer,” he mentioned.
The sprinters have one other shot at line honours on Saturday earlier than the Tour returns to the mountains.
“I feel tomorrow goes to be somewhat bit more durable however on paper the end does go well with me; slight uphill with one kilometre to go, so hopefully that is a greater one,” Ewan mentioned.