Caleb Ewan’s Diary: training at altitude, racing in the wind

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The last time we heard from Jayco AIS World Tour Academy rider Caleb Ewan he was recovering from a nasty crash at the U23 Tour of Flanders which saw him miss a month of racing. Now, a couple months on, Caleb is back on the bike and training at altitude ahead of a big second half to his season.
In this post Caleb brings us up to date on his last few months and looks to the weeks and months ahead, including his move to Orica-GreenEdge.

Back at it

The last time I wrote for CyclingTips I was trying to get back into form for the Olympia’s Tour in the Netherlands after recovering from my Flanders crash. I managed to get through the Olympia’s Tour alright, picking up a second place on stage 4.

The team had gone into the race really targeting the team time trial — we’d started the tour with mostly track riders on our team and just three of us roadies. When it came to the TTT on stage 2, we were ahead on every time check but when we got down to five riders, one of our guys punctured with just 1.5km to go. We ended up finishing seventh, which was a bit disappointing.

Many of the races we do in the World Tour Academy are U23 races but the Olympia’s Tour is UCI 2.2 elite race. Being in the Netherlands it’s very flat and crosswinds play a big role.

Being a smaller guy I’m not that great in the crosswinds. When we were sitting down to plan out the year I wasn’t actually scheduled to do Olympia’s but I really wanted to do it so I could practise a bit in the crosswinds. I knew it was a weakness.

Overall it was a good learning experience but it’s a really hard race because we’re up against all the Dutch teams and they’re obviously really good at that sort of windy racing. They do it every week. It was hard for us to get organised because racing in the wind was new for a lot of us. We didn’t really know where to be and at what time.

Other races and a break

A couple weeks after Olympia’s I did a pretty big one-day race in Italy and got second in that. It was a pretty hilly race so it was satisfying to be climbing well and getting good results in tough races. That was the last race before my mid-season break.

All the guys on the Jayco AIS World Tour Academy team get a week off in the middle of the season and so my girlfriend came over from Australia and we went to Greece for the week. It was great to get away and leave the bike at home for a few days, and just enjoy having some time off.

I did another race five or six days after my break, just near Venice. The main feature of that race was dirt sections and gravel roads, which was pretty tough. I haven’t really raced on dirt before, and this stuff was really loose and really sketchy.

We started with six riders but many of the other teams had eight. We were quickly down to four riders because two of my teammates were sick and the plan was for them to do the first 20k and stop. During the race I got dropped a couple times, but then the guys helped me to get back to the bunch. I wasn’t in good form and I thought my day was over about six times before the finish.

Somehow I ended up coming second and I was very close to winning it. It’s strange how racing works out that way sometimes — I guess I start to find a bit more energy when I know the finish is coming!

A big few months ahead

Looking back at the races I’ve done this year I reckon I’ve done fewer race days than I did last year, mainly because of my crash. I missed a few one-day races and a whole Tour (Thuringen Rundfahrt). But it’s probably not a bad thing that it’s been a bit quieter as I’ve got a big second half of the season coming up.

I’ve got the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow coming up where I’ll be riding in the road race alongside guys like Mark Renshaw, Simon Clarke and Nathan Haas. And then I’m riding the RideLondon Classic with Orica-GreenEdge. From there it’s all about preparing for the Worlds and the races leading up to that. I’m doing another race with GreenEdge between RideLondon and the Worlds, and then I’ve got the Tour of Beijing after that.

A lot of people ask me whether I’m nervous about stepping up to ride for Orica-GreenEdge later this season. I am a little, but I’m feeling good about it. I’m feeling good on the bike and I’m feeling motivated. Sometimes you get to this part of the season and, if you’ve raced a lot, you start to feel a bit unmotivated. But I’m feeling good so far and looking forward to the opportunities ahead.

Training at altitude

Right now I’m at an altitude training camp in northern Italy and I’ve been here with the World Tour Academy guys for a week now. We spent the first four days in Livigno which is 1,800m above sea level and then we moved up to the top of a nearby mountain which is at about 2,400m.

It’s pretty important not to go too hard too early when you’re at an altitude training camp — it’s a bit of a change to your body. So we had five days easy to start with, with one to three-hour rides. Just in the past two days we have started on solid days of four-and-a-half to five hours.

Image: Caleb Ewan
Image: Caleb Ewan

A couple of the guys were sick last week so they didn’t join us at altitude straight away. But everyone seems to be on the mend now and the whole team is here, including Jack Haig who has joined the World Tour Academy team after riding in the National Road Series (NRS) for the first part of the year.

Between him and Rob Power we’ve got some great climbing options for the upcoming stage races, particularly the Tour de l’Avenir which has something like four summit finishes.

Le Tour and beyond

Of course the Tour de France is just about to start and with any luck I’ll get to watch most of it. Alberto Contador was staying across the road from where we are staying in Trepalle and I saw him riding around a few times with his teammates. He must be up here for final prep before the Tour.

I saw a bit of the Dauphine and Contador’s obviously very strong at the moment but for me I think Froome’s going to be very hard to beat.

As for me, I’m here at altitude until July 13 then it’s off to do a four-day race in the Czech Republic on the 20th. And after that I’m off to my first Commonwealth Games!

Thanks for reading and enjoy the Tour de France!


Follow the links below to read the first two instalments in Caleb Ewan’s Diary:

– Part one: The wake-up call
– Part two: Crashes, rehab, and getting back at it

You can follow Caleb on Twitter here and on Instagram here.

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