Experienced lineup to support young Ewan at Vuelta Ciclista a La Rioja, Gerrans comeback 2.0Thu 2 Apr 2015
20-year-old sprinter Caleb Ewan will benefit from the full support of seven much more experienced teammates when he lines up as ORICA-GreenEDGE’s leader at Vuelta Ciclista a La Rioja on Sunday.
The one-day Spanish race will also signify the second comeback of 2015 for the young gun’s mentor, 2014 Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner Simon Gerrans.
Winning the race last year with Michael Matthews last year, the team again has high hopes for a top result.
“We are going into Sunday’s race with the objective to win it,” sport director Dave McPartland said.
“We have run second two years ago and we won it last year so really, the goal is pretty simple with Caleb.”
Ewan will benefit from the pulling power of Pieter Weening, Cameron Meyer, Christian Meier and Brett Lancaster along the 166.3km course before the punchy speed of Michael Albasini and Daryl Impey come to the fore in the finale.
“The climbs are pretty early on, or mid-race,” McPartland explained. “We do a big loop and come back down to the finish circuit so it should be a bunch sprint.
“We have a few guys that will be ready to put themselves into the break early if it goes but our first plan is to try and bring it back to a sprint.
“This will be good for Caleb, especially after the tough racing in Catalunya. This is his bread and butter, races like this, so we put a strong group of guys around him and hopefully he can get the win, just as much for himself as for the team on Sunday.”
Gerrans will be amongst those hoping to assist Ewan towards the final, but as his return race from an elbow injury suffered in his first race of 2015, Strade Bianche, the priority for the 34-year-old is purely getting back to racing.
“We have said to Gerro it’s more about seeing how he feels on the day,” McPartland said.
“One thing with Simon is that he will give 100% towards the team, however he feels on the day. It’ll be a bit of a shock to the system coming back but he is a classy bike rider.
“So it will basically be up to him. He will ride himself into it during the early part of the race and hopefully he gets through and can provide valuable help in setting up for the guys who will do the last lead out, but it’s not the first priority.”
ORICA-GreenEDGE at the Vuelta a La Rioja (5 April):