Ewan off to flyer, Haig impressive on debut

Fri 1 Jan 2016

2015 Vuelta a Espana stage winner Caleb Ewan is off to a flying start to 2016, taking out the opening criterium at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic with a bold early move on the Geelong hotdog circuit.

Ewan’s victory capitalised on an impressive performance by debutant Jack Haig who spent the majority of the one-hour long race on the front of the peloton chasing down moves.

21-year-old Ewan was pleased to produce in the final, despite not having pinned on a number since September, and was quick to praise his sole teammate in Haig.

“This was my first race in four months,” Ewan said.  “I think it’s one of the hardest races to start with – one hour full gas.”

“It’s a massive relief. I didn’t know what my form was going to be like, especially in a short race like this. I haven’t done an hour-long race since this time last year. It was nice coming here and winning again.

“But more impressive today was Jack’s performance. He’s a climber, and unfortunately, we had a broken bike for Alex (Edmondson) so he couldn’t start, but Jack did an awesome job... I’m so impressed with him.”

Sport director Matt Wilson was also pleased by the pair’s performance.

“Both guys were really strong,” Wilson said. “It’s a really hard circuit to control with just two guys but Jack Haig was seriously seriously impressive, he controlled the entire race and was there until a lap to go.”

“Caleb was squeezed on the second last corner but he was obviously super confident, he hit out with 350m to go and won into a headwind.”

How it happened:

The elite men’s race started with no incident although the intensity saw a big split in the group after six minutes of racing.

Ewan showed his nose at the head of racing early before a solo move by Robbie Hucker (Avanti IsoWhey Sports) had the field in chase mode.

With few putting their hand up to assist the chase, and a depleted two-man ORICA-GreenEDGE outfit to support Ewan, Haig stepped up in his first race as a professional cyclist to control racing single-handedly for much of the 60minutes of action.

Just over halfway through, Hucker’s move was closed down and Haig continued to deny subsequent counter attacks.

With 15minutes remaining a crash depleted the field and just 14riders remained in contention for the first honours of the season.

As Haig dropped off the front with a lap remaining, Ewan sat in fifth wheel into the second last corner behind a well-positioned Drapac Professional Cycling Team.

With experience in his favour, Ewan, a two-time and reigning Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic champion, made his move early down the back straight to lead into the final corner and hold on for victory by four bike lengths.