Caleb Ewan will line up at the Australian National Championship Road Race in Buninyong this Sunday (Lotto Soudal) alongside his Lotto Soudal team mate Adam Hansen, aiming to win the Elite title for the first time.
The riders will face sixteen hilly local laps of 11.6 kilometres with the start of the 185-kilometre long race at 12:30 local time. Caleb Ewan previews the championship and tries to predict how the race will unfold.
Caleb Ewan: “It is really nice that I got the year off to a good start by winning two stages of the Bay Crits. Of course, the national championships are a totally different kind of race but it is nice to see that the form is still there after a few months without racing. It is nice to get the confidence back in by riding some smaller races. I was aiming to be in really good shape for the Nationals and somewhat later the Tour Down Under.”
“I obviously want to win the race and become the new national champion but for that to happen, everything has to fall into place. There need to be a lot of things that have to go right, so it also comes down to a bit of luck. Traditionally, some big and strong teams will appear at the start, so it will be really hard to race against teams that have so many options. With only me and Adam Hansen participating for Lotto Soudal, we have not many cards to play with.
“The majority of the teams won’t be keen on going to a sprint when I’m still in the bunch, so that will make the racing more offensive. Most of the teams hope for a breakaway that goes till the finish, so they will want to have multiple riders in front. I still need to discuss with Adam whether he will stay with me in the bunch or whether he will try to slip into an early break.”
“The course in Buninyong has been used for several years, so I know it really well by now. But still, it is really difficult to predict beforehand how the racing is going to be like. There’s one main climb in the local lap and I think that the wind direction is likely to be a decisive factor. If it’s a tailwind, the stronger climbers will certainly have the advantage. If it’s more of a headwind, the style of racing is less likely to be aggressive. Of course, I am hoping for a headwind so that I can play my cards in the final sprint.
“It is really difficult to point out the riders to keep an eye on. During this time of the year, it is hard to tell who’s in good shape. There’s not really one big favourite, but obviously the bigger teams have a slight advantage.”