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Tour Down Under: Speed king Caleb Ewan has brakes put on Tour de France dream

Caleb Ewan feeds off speed and the helter skelter rush of a bunch sprint, but his World Tour team have put the brakes on his desire to race in the Tour de France.

Orica-GreenEDGE head sports director Matt White is amazed how far 21-year-old Ewan, from Bowral in NSW, has progressed since turning professional last year.

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But he has had to rein in his young charge's ambition to race in the Tour and the first of cycling's five one-day monuments – the 298- kilometre Milan-San Remo classic in Italy.

White said he was struck by Ewan's enthusiasm to compete in the two legendary events in a meeting with him last month at the end of his first professional year.

However, White believes his formative professional years must be carefully managed.

After an impressive debut season in which he won 11 races – including a stage in the third of cycling's three grand tours, the Vuelta a Espana – Ewan is due to make his debut in the Giro d'Italia in May and possibly also the Vuelta in August.


The Tour in July is definitely off Ewan's schedule, despite his interest in a start.

Asked if Ewan was a chance to compete in the Tour this year, White said in Adelaide on Sunday before the People's Choice Classic criterium – the lead-up race for the Tour Down Under World Tour race that starts on Tuesday: "Hundred per cent not. He is not ready for the Tour this year."

White then said Ewan had "asked me when he is going to do it".

White's response? "I said, 'Let's worry about this year first'. 

"A Giro is the big target at the beginning of the season. Who knows, we might take him back to the Vuelta as well."

White said Ewan also inquired about the marathon Milan-San Remo race in Italy.

"[Milan-San Remo] is a race he can do very well in," White said, then added: "[The Tour and Milan-San Remo] are races that he sees himself winning in. He is hungry to get in there and win whatever he can.

"He has big goals and big ambitions, which is great. But with all young guys it's all about going through the process of developing.

"This week [at the Tour Down Under] is a very important step in that development."

Orica-GreenEDGE's priority at the Tour Down Under that finishes on Sunday is to help their Victorian leader Simon Gerrans in his bid for a record fourth overall win.

But the team also hopes Ewan can win a stage in one of the bunch sprint finishes.

On Saturday, Ewan recalled how he struggled in his last and only participation in the Tour Down Under in 2014 when he rode on the Uni SA-Australian team at age 19.

He impressed in the People's Choice Classic, finishing third behind the Germans Marcel Kittel, who won, and Andre Greipel; but in the Tour Down Under he suffered.

"I hadn't done any World Tour racing by then and I hadn't raced with professionals at all," Ewan said with a wry grin. "I was pretty inexperienced … I really struggled.

"I might have finished one of the stages in the bunch and that was the last one."

White believes Ewan has it to win a stage in the Tour Down Under this week.

"His third [in the 2014 People's Choice Classic] behind Kittel and Greipel was an incredible result, but he wasn't up to doing that on the road stages," White said.

"Now we are going to see if he is ready to do it on the road stages. I'm sure he is."

Ewan has come to South Australia with winning form, having won four of his first five races – all criteriums – before a DNF [did not finish] in last Sunday's Australian road championship in which the surges by Tasmanian Richie Porte (BMC) broke him and many in a race where only 15 from 127 starters finished.

"Caleb wasn't on a bad day, but not on the best of days. His form is good," White said. "He is sprinting faster than we've ever seen. His strength at the moment is his speed."