Caleb Ewan wins stage 3 of Tirreno-Adriatico.

Ewan plans to leave the Giro early … after winning ‘as many stages as possible’

Caleb Ewan is gearing up for his fifth career Giro start.

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When the Giro d’Italia rolls out from Budapest on Friday, Caleb Ewan will be hunting for his sixth career victory at the Italian Grand Tour, confident in his form after a solid first few months of the season.

“I had quite a good preparation coming up to this,” Ewan said at a Lotto Soudal press conference on Thursday. “As you know, I was sick around Milan-San Remo which was disappointing because that was a big goal of my season but I had some time off then, I had some good training at the Tour of Turkey which went pretty well, came home and trained again for the Giro. I think I’m in really good form but I can’t say whether it’s the best form of my career.”

As was the case in 2021, Ewan is at the Giro to battle for stage wins. Last year, he won two stages before leaving the race to focus on other objectives. He noted that he does not expect to ride through all three weeks to the final stage in Verona this year either, with objectives further down the road to focus on.

“I’m not planning on finishing,” he said. “I have the Tour to aim for as well. For a sprinter it’s hard to back up straightaway after a Grand Tour, so usually the two Tour de Frances I’ve finished, I wasn’t great for the rest of season. I think it would be a bit of a mistake for me to try to finish the Giro and then go on to do the Tour as well.”

Ewan did not rule out the potential of hunting stage wins at all three Grand Tours this season, which was a goal of his last year. Unlike in 2021, however, Ewan said that it’s something that may come into focus a bit more organically, if things fall into place at the Giro and the Tour.

“When I started the year, I was not aiming to win a stage in all three Grand Tours, but I obviously want to try to win a stage here and my aim is to also go to the Tour and win a stage there,” he said. “So maybe, if I can win a stage in the Giro and the Tour, then I can start thinking about maybe going to the Vuelta, but it’s not really on my mind at the moment.

“I think the World Championships [in Wollongong, Australia] is something I’m aiming for at the end of the year as well, so it will be a bit more about what’s best preparation for that than trying to win a stage in all three. But if we sit down and think that the Vuelta is going to be good preparation for the World Championships, then maybe it’s something I can go for.”

Picking up stage wins at any of the three Grand Tours, let alone all of them, would certainly be a boon not only for Ewan’s palmares, but for his team’s hopes of staying at the WorldTour level too. Lotto Soudal has been among the lowest-ranked WorldTour teams for the past few months, raising the possibility of relegation at the end of the season.

Ewan said that the looming threat of being bumped down to the second division doesn’t change how he plans to race.

“It’s the same as every year,” he said. “When I start a race, the aim is always to win as many stages at possible. That’s again my goal, so at the end of the day, I’m just going to do my best to see how much I can win and then hopefully in the end, it’s enough.”

Adding some intrigue to the sprints at the Giro this year is the relative parity among those at the top of the sprinting field. No one rider has established himself as the undisputed fastest rider of the season so far. Going up against the likes of Mark Cavendish at the Giro will give Ewan an opportunity to stake his claim. It will also give those of us watching at home plenty of reason to tune in.

“It seems like there’s a lot of good guys and it’s hard to pick out a clear best,” Ewan said. “A lot of the sprinters had a really good start to the season. I think it’s maybe now that we’re getting to Grand Tour season we see how everyone steps up. These are generally the harder stages to win, so I think you’ll have a pretty good sprint field here at the Giro with Cav, [Arnaud] Démare, [Fernando] Gaviria.

“I feel like I’ve missed some but it seems like there’s quite a few good sprinters here. As always it will never be easy to win a stage, but I think it will be entertaining for the people watching.”

Ewan will have a chance to pick up his first Grand Tour win of the season right from the outset at this year’s race. The uphill finale of the opening stage in Visegrád will be a tricky one that will likely prove too steep for many of the sprinters in the bunch, but versatility has always been one of Ewan’s biggest assets.

If he can hang on over five uphill kilometers, he’ll be in with a great chance to battle for the win against the likes of Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), who will start as the bookies’ favorite to nab the victory.

“It’s pretty difficult,” Ewan said of the finish, noting that the purer sprinters would probably struggle. “It’s easier than I thought it would be but it’s still about five kilometers uphill so it’ll be quite difficult. But I have nothing to lose so I will try and see what happens.”

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