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Emerging Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan could make his senior debut at the UCI Road World Championships in North America next month following a breakthrough victory at the Vuelta a Espana.
Ewan announced his arrival in the WorldTour with a stage five win on Wednesday ahead of Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix champion John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin), and four-time Tour de France green jersey winner Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo).
CyclingTips understands the 21-year-old could be selected to race at the world titles in Richmond, Virginia purely for experience, and notably ahead of the 2016 titles in Qatar, which is likely to suit the sprinters. Ewan finished second at the under-23 road championship in Spain last year, seven seconds behind Norway’s Sven Erik Bystrom.
Michael Matthews and Simon Gerrans remain frontrunners for Australia’s senior men’s team this season, a squad which is likely to be announced on Monday. Matthews and rivals like Germany’s John Degenkolb have made no secret of their podium ambitions at the September 27 road race.
“That’s been a really big focus of mine since last year’s worlds. (The course there) didn’t suit me so well, but this year it seems to be perfect,” Matthews said at the end of his Tour de France debut in July.
Australia has a depth of talent at its disposal for the punchy 259.2km senior men’s race, which includes cobbles, but national selectors may have to factor in injury complaints with many leading riders having suffered crash-marred seasons. Should respective recoveries impact on selection, Ewan may get a run.
The sprinter has celebrated 11 victories to date in his rookie pro year with trade team Orica-GreenEdge, surpassing the five his team had expected of him.
The Australian-based WorldTour outfit purposely eased its exciting sprint prospect into the season; choosing early races in Asia over top-tier events to successfully allow Ewan to build on his experience, and more importantly, confidence.