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Jan 15, 2017 – Australian criterium champion Caleb Ewan has defended his People’s Choice Classic crown as part of the Tour Down Under in Adelaide this evening.
The victory was a dream start to a new combination between Ewan and German recruit Roger Kluge, with the pair set to work closely together throughout the 2017 season.
“I’m really happy it started off well with Roger,” Ewan said. “It was the first race I have raced with him and he dropped me off perfectly, right at the front, and that was the first time I had to touch the wind.”
“I don’t think it usually happens like that (working so well together in the first race) but all I had to do was follow him. He sat behind me with a few laps to go to give me a smooth ride and came around me with a lap to go.”
Ben O’Connor (Dimension Data) animated the 22-lap criterium with a solo move but the peloton, often led by ORICA-SCOTT, kept a close eye on him before shutting the move down ahead of the bunch sprint.
22-year-old Ewan said the victory was a confidence boost ahead of the main race start on Tuesday.
“I definitely feel the pressure but I try to keep it pretty relaxed,” Ewan said. “My team backed me 100%, they rode straight away when the breakaway left and I just cruised down the back (of the peloton) most the day to save my energy.”
“This is a great race to build your confidence. I sprinted quite early, earlier than I would have hoped, but I have a whole lot of confidence going into the next week of racing.”
How it happened:
As the first opportunity of 2017 for the UCI WorldTour peloton to open up the lungs and test out the legs, the heat was on from the gun and attacks were instant.
Ben O’Connor (Dimension Data) and Will Clarke (Cannondale Drapac) formed the first breakaway, attacking in the third lap before O’Connor went solo.
Il Lombardia winner Esteban Chaves slipped straight into a support role and moved to the front of the peloton to manage their advantage.
With assistance from Damien Howson and Simon Gerrans O’Connor remained ahead but in catching distance before the race came back together with a few laps remaining.
Team Sky hit the front early, followed by Bora-Hansgrohe, before ORICA-SCOTT perfectly timed their lead out to give Ewan the victory.
After a rest day tomorrow, the official Tour Down Under will begin on Tuesday with a 145km opening stage travelling from Unley to Lyndoch.