Ewan wins first European race at Vuelta a La Rioja

Sun 5 Apr 2015

Neo-pro sprinter Caleb Ewan has claimed his first professional win in Europe, Spanish one-day race Vuelta a La Rioja today.

The 20-year-old rode with the full support of a much more experienced ORICA-GreenEDGE lineup to pull off the team’s second consecutive victory at the event following that of Michael Matthews last year. South African teammate Daryl Impey finished second.

Having had Michael Albasini and Christian Meier in the early break, ORICA-GreenEDGE then took control at the front of the bunch for the final 30km, too strong for any outfits to challenge.

The win gives Ewan victories on three continents in 2015, following earlier season successes in Australia and Langkawi.

“Obviously this is another great confidence booster for me,” Ewan said.

“The team rode so well. You have to pinch yourself every now and then having guys that have won monuments, worn the yellow jersey and won stages at the Tour de France all working for you whilst you are sitting on the back.

“We went to the front just before the circuit. We had a few teams try to come past but with the team so strong, no one really could.”

Sport director Dave McPartland had previewed the race with one goal, a victory, and was thrilled the team could deliver to perfection.

“The guys really set the day up well for Caleb and even he was saying straight after the finish that it was pretty much a textbook lead out,” McPartland said. “Even with a textbook lead out you need to finish it off so kudos to the whole team and Caleb for today.”

“Everything is still new for Caleb, every race is new and every team he goes to he has new teammates. To have guys like today with experience he can benefit from, to keep him calm and to explain things clearly makes a big difference.”

Albasini and Meier were amongst the first group of eight riders who looked like establishing the break of the day. Unsatisfied with the combination, the peloton allowed them just 40seconds before reducing it down to 20seconds.

But in a second acceleration, they dropped two companions and survived to re-establish as a group of six at the head of the race.

After the lead hovered between one and two minutes it was eventually brought back with 40km left to ride.

The objective for ORICA-GreenEDGE was achieved; relieving the remainder of the team from any chasing duties that come associated with defend champions and a team built around a threatening sprinter.

The next dangerous move was a solo one by Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) who escaped to have a 35second advantage going into the final 20km.

ORICA-GreenEDGE was quick to respond, placing the entire team at the front of the peloton for the catch that occurred less than five kilometres later.

The experienced Australian outfit remained at the fore until the conclusion of the race, perfectly setting up the sprint victory and one-two.