Australian cyclist Caleb Ewan warns Tour de France rivals by winning Tour de Wallonie first stage

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LoadingThe Tour de Wallonie is Ewan’s first stage race from Paris-Nice in March and the third return race since the season resumed on August 1 after a 20-week suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Australian was second behind Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) at Milano-Torino and 113th at Milan-San Remo at the start of the month.

Ewan, by comparison, had seven victories in the preparation for the Tour last year, competing in six stage races, including 11 days at the Giro d’Italia, and three one-day races.

“I have only had two days of racing since giving birth and I think this race is the ideal preparation for the Tour de France,” he continued. “I was disappointed with my performance at Milan-San Remo last week. It’s such a tough race and the heat and the new course made it even more difficult for me. But I will try again in the future.

“I want to defend the leader’s jersey tomorrow and maybe even the day after tomorrow if I have good climbing legs. But the fourth step will be too difficult for me. With [Belgian teammate] Philippe Gilbert we have someone in great shape and he knows the local roads. It will target the GC. ”

Caleb Ewan took the first leader’s jersey for the race with his stage victory. Credit:Getty Images

Ewan was unable to train for a stint at his home in Monaco due to lockdown rules. His Lotto Soudal team introduced pay cuts of around 30% while the WorldTour season was suspended.

Still, the seven-time Grand Tour stage winner does not appear to have been disturbed by the interruptions, rather focused on his next major goal after Milan-San Remo. Round.

“A lot of people, not just in cycling but around the world, have had pay cuts. I think the AFL guys had to take a much bigger pay cut than we had to. That’s what it is and obviously it wouldn’t be great. accept a pay cut, but if we have to do it, we have to do it. I’m not struggling financially with a 30% pay cut, so to be honest it doesn’t really matter, “Ewan said. Age this month.

“The team would only do it if they had to. If that meant the survival of the team… I have two more years after that with the team. It was really in my best interest that the team stay healthy in the financial situation because I’m going to be paid by them for the next two years, so a few months of pay cuts aren’t the end of the world. ”

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It took a while for Ewan to adjust to the nature of the Tour last year, which he did halfway, winning three unprecedented stages and finishing his first full three-week Grand Tour in the middle of the pressure, expectations and stress he then described. Age as unhealthy.

Ewan will enter this year with evident and improved confidence and reputation, starting with his 2019 campaign and early season results, but will once again have to navigate uncharted territory, this time linked to the pandemic.

The Jumpy riders are poised to start the Tour in very few races, the media will not be able to function as a moving rugby maul, and teams, especially those financially affected by the pandemic, in addition to runners out of contract, are perhaps more desperate and have fewer opportunities to make a good impression.

Fortunately, the first stage of the 185.8 km Tour of Wallonia started off without incident, but several Tour title contenders and renowned sprinters have been seriously injured since the resumption of the condensed season.

Caleb Ewan is convinced he will be ready for a second career Tour de France.Credit:Getty Images

Three of the top four on the 2019 Tour dropped out of the Criterium du Dauphine, a traditional litmus test for the Tour, last week. The race was shortened to five days of simple mountain stages and ended on Sunday with a load of prisoners, some who are now in a race against time to recover for the Tour. Defending Tour champion Egan Bernal abandoned the Dauphine with a reported complaint while Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) and Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) crashed.

Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), winner of the Vuelta a Espana, who was leading the race and presented himself as a threat for the Tour, was also forced to retire following injuries related to an accident.

It followed the Tour of Poland where Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) was taken to hospital in critical condition following a crash in a tuck sprint, which involved one of the main rivals of Ewan, Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma).

The Tour de Wallonie will be Ewan’s last race before going to the Grand Départ on August 29.

“I’ll do my best to finish the Tour because I want to try to win in Paris again,” said Ewan, referring to the final stage of the Tour which is sacred ground for sprinters.

“The tour is the priority and then we will see after the tour how I feel. ”

Ewan plans to compete in the Giro d’Italia, after the Tour, to end his season after facing the best top sprinters in the sport.

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