Caleb Ewan ... has people talking. Photo: Pat Scala
CALEB EWAN was the name on everyone's lips after the first week of the Australian road racing season for 2012. And today, as the 2013 season dawns with the Bay Cycling Classic series in Victoria, the teenager from Bowral is again the one most are talking about.
It is not just because Ewan, 18, won two of the four races in the 2012 series, beating many of the best Australian professional riders. It is more because as Ewan continues to impress in so many domains in cycling - from the track to the road where he is reportedly as strong in climbing as he is in sprinting, where his forte at high speed will be called on in the Bay Cycling Classic series that starts Tuesday - observers are still no clearer about how far he can go. And the answer most likely will only come when he turns professional - his ambition - which is some time away.
Despite the excitement Ewan has generated - from fans to the World Tour teams keen to have him on their rosters - those closest to him are wisely wary about encouraging him to join the paid ranks too soon. Many a young rising star has been burned by doing so too early.
Showing maturity for his age and talent, Ewan is not assuming he will repeat his 2012 success at the Bay Cycling Classic series of two wins from four stages and second place overall behind sprinter Allan Davis. It will be a taller order, too. For 2013, the series has been shortened to three legs - stage one in Geelong on Tuesday, stage two at Portarlington on Wednesday and stage three at Williamstown on Thursday.
''It will be harder this year, I'm sure,'' said Ewan, whose 2012 season also included wins at the national junior track titles, in seven road races in Europe and a silver medal at the world junior road championships in the Netherlands. ''No 17-year-old would go down to the Bay 'Crits' expecting to win. My goal last year was to stay in the race and not get dropped as that's what happened to me the year before, so I certainly went better than expected.''
Sure, Ewan will be a known face in the peloton for the Bay Classic series that kicks off a blockbuster January for Australia's summer of cycling and includes the Tour of Victoria, the Australian road championships in Ballarat and Bunninyong, Victoria, the Down Under Classic and Tour Down Under World Tour races in Adelaide and the Australian track championships on the Dunc Gray Velodrome at Bass Hill in Sydney.
But with Ewan on the Bikebug team will be the European-based Australian Jonathan Cantwell, a crack sprinter contracted with the Saxo-Tinkoff team who made his debut in the 2012 Tour de France. Besides providing top end speed to help Ewan in the sprints (if not win himself), Cantwell will bring valuable experience to help handle his position as a targeted rider. Also riding with Ewan will be the NSW riders Jack Edwards and Richard Lang.
After the Bay Cycling Classic series, Ewan's next goal will be the Australian under 23 road title. ''For me, this [series] is a stepping stone to the nationals. I was too young to ride it last year, so could concentrate on the Bay 'Crits'. Still, I'd like to win the hotdog circuit in Geelong [on Tuesday].''
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