Caleb Ewan sprints to Australian national criterium title

by Matt de Neef

BALLARAT, Australia (CT) – Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) has lived up to his billing as pre-race favourite in the elite men’s criterium at the Australian Road National Championships, taking a comfortable sprint victory in the twilight race.

Ewan comfortably accounted for Brenton Jones (Drapac) and Anthony Giacoppo (Avanti IsoWhey) in the centre of Ballarat after a clinical performance from his Orica-GreenEdge team.

“It was actually a big relief [to win],” Ewan said after crossing the line. “I came into this race really really nervous — I knew I had some good wins already in the Bay Crits so I was clearly the favourite for today and obviously there’s a fair bit of pressure going into a race as the favourite.”

Drapac and Avanti IsoWhey were the main aggressors in the hour-long criterium, both teams sending multiple riders up the road in an attempt to forge a meaningful breakaway and disrupt Orica-GreenEdge’s plans. Adam Phelan (Drapac), Sam Spokes (Drapac), Robbie Hucker (Avanti IsoWhey) and Pat Lane (Avanti IsoWhey) were particularly aggressive, each putting in multiple attacks and spending time out front.

But in the end no break was able to get more than six seconds clear of the bunch before being shut down by Orica-GreenEdge. Luke Durbridge and Jack Haig did the majority of the work, controlling the race for their 21-year-old sprinter.

In the closing laps Ewan was piloted into position by Mitch Docker and Alex Edmondson before sprinting up the right-hand side of the road to victory.

“I can’t fault the team at all – they rode it perfectly and again just gave me such an easy ride out there,” Ewan said. “And I think that’s what makes the difference in the end.”

The win comes just days after Ewan secured his third overall title at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic and a year after he was second in both the criterium and the road race at the Australian Road Nationals.

Ewan will go into Sunday’s road race as one of two big favourites for Orica-GreenEdge (the other being Simon Gerrans). But according to Ewan, it’s not yet clear whether he’ll have the opportunity to contest the victory.

“Obviously I’d like to win but we’ll see how the race plays out,” Ewan said. “I actually don’t really know what my role will be because last year I was only meant to do the first three or four laps to make sure the right break got away and I ended up being there in the end for the sprint.

“To be honest I really don’t know what the team’s going to make me do.”

Earlier in the evening Jesse Kerrison (State of Matter/MAAP) won the U23 men’s criterium title ahead of Sam Welsford and Daniel Fitter (State of Matter/MAAP). Kerrison had gone into the race in a lead-out role for Fitter – one of the pre-race favourites – but a dropped chain for Fitter in the finishing straight meant Kerrison had to contest the sprint.

The Australian Road National Championships continue tomorrow with the U23 men’s, elite women’s and elite men’s individual time trials in Buninyong.

Click through to Ella CyclingTips for a report from the elite women’s criterium.

Race results

1. 3 Caleb EWAN (NSW) 59:54
2. 26 Brenton JONES (VIC) +0
3. 41 Anthony GIACOPPO (WA) +0
4. 42 Patrick SHAW (VIC) +0
5. 21 Alexander EDMONDSON (SA) +0
6. 139 Jackson LAW (NSW) +4
7. 43 Luke PARKER (VIC) +4
8. 105 Scott SUNDERLAND (WA) +7
9. 90 Joel WALSH (NSW) +7
10. 39 Robbie HUCKER (VIC) +11
11. 109 Sam EVANS (VIC) +11
12. 100 Fabio CALABRIA (VIC) +11
13. 131 Cameron IVORY (NSW) +11
14. 137 Tyler SPURRELL (VIC) +11
15. 120 Aaron WATTS (NSW) +11
16. 151 James CUMMINGS (VIC) +11
17. 53 Benjamin HILL (ACT) +11
18. 33 Steele VON HOFF (VIC) +11
19. 129 Craig HUTTON (NSW) +11
20. 81 Tommy NANKERVIS (VIC) +16
21. 145 Trevor SPENCER (VIC) +18
22. 30 Bernard SULZBERGER (TAS) +20
23. 48 Alexander SMYTH (VIC) +24
24. 45 Joshua TAYLOR (NSW) +24
25. 150 Darcy WOOLLEY (VIC) +26
26. 61 Ray FORBES (VIC) +26
27. 111 Paul VAN DER PLOEG (VIC) +26
28. 27 Adam PHELAN (ACT) +29
29. 136 Jay MCCARTHY (QLD) +29
30. 138 Ivan MICHELIN-BEARD (ACT) +29
31. 54 Cameron BAYLY (SA) +29
32. 110 Dale SCARFE (VIC) +31
33. 113 Kane WALKER (VIC) +33
34. 31 Graeme BROWN (WA) +36
35. 124 Scott LAW (NSW) +36
36. 13 Lachlan NORRIS (VIC) +42
37. 34 Glenn O’SHEA (SA) +44
38. 29 William CLARKE (TAS) +44
39. 85 Chris WINN (VIC) +44
40. 47 Jayden COPP (QLD) +48
41. 59 Liam KELLY (NSW) +58
42. 98 Russell GILL (SA) +1:09
43. 56 Nicholas WOODS (QLD) +1:11
44. 46 Tom ROBINSON (TAS) +1:14
45. 35 Sam CROME (VIC) +1:17
46. 122 Mitchell MULHERN (QLD) +1:44
47. 49 Samuel VOLKERS (QLD) +2:45
dnf 7 Neil VAN DER PLOEG (VIC)
dnf 8 Luke DURBRIDGE (AUS)
dnf 9 Samuel SPOKES (NSW)
dnf 12 Travis MEYER (WA)
dnf 15 Mitchell DOCKER (AUS)
dnf 16 Nathan EARLE (TAS)
dnf 20 Jack HAIG (VIC)
dnf 38 Patrick LANE (VIC)
dnf 40 Mark O’BRIEN (VIC)
dnf 69 Stuart SHAW (ACT)
dnf 73 Shannon JOHNSON (VIC)
dnf 82 Dominik DUDKIEWICZ (VIC)
dnf 91 Matthias KIERNAN (VIC)
dnf 96 Jacob KAUFFMANN (NSW)
dnf 115 Peter JOHNSTONE (VIC)
dnf 126 Patrick DRAPAC (VIC)
dnf 133 Thomas COATES (QLD)
dnf 141 Todd SATCHELL (VIC)
dnf 148 Shaun O’CALLAGHAN (VIC)
dnf 152 Liam HILL (VIC)
dns 36 Mitchell LOVELOCK-FAY (ACT)
dns 44 Alex WOHLER (QLD)
dns 76 Joel STRACHAN (VIC)
dns 95 Jake MAGEE (VIC)
dns 140 Ned VOLK (VIC)

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