Ewan facing cycling audition at Tour Down Under

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    The Tour Down Under forms part of a lengthy cycling audition for Australian sprint ace Caleb Ewan.

    The 22-year-old has made it clear he wants to ride for the first time at Milan-San Remo, the first of the five annual monument classics.

    But before Orica-Scott director Matt White agrees, he wants Ewan to show he can handle the unique challenges that the Italian race poses.

    While sprinters can win Milan-Sanremo, at around 300km it is a particularly-long race.

    “It’s definitely a race that’s going to suit him – whether that’s in 2017 or the future,” White told AAP.

    “I’ve set him a couple of little challenges.

    “He needs to prove he’s ready for that race.”

    Asked if the Adelaide Tour was part of Ewan’s audition, White replied: “it’s a start.

    “We’ll have a better idea of his condition here.”

    The Tour week opens on Sunday night with the People’s Choice Classic, a stand-alone event.

    The Adelaide street race is a chance for the riders, especially the internationals, to open up their legs with a high-speed race before the Tour itself opens the WorldTour season on Tuesday.

    For many Tour riders, such as two-time world champion Peter Sagan, Sunday will be their first race of the year.

    Ewan won last year’s Classic ahead of winning two Tour stages.

    After crashing on January 1, Ewan has also enjoyed a strong start to this season.

    He rebounded quickly from the crash to win the last race of the Bay Classic series and then defended his Australian criterium championship.

    Ewan also stayed with the front group until deep into last Sunday’s Australian road race championship, another good sign for his Milan-San Remo

    “He’s matured a lot in the last 12 months and we’re going to see some big improvements and leaps in his ability this year,” White said.

    There have been two Australian winners – sprinter Matt Goss in 2011 and all-rounder Simon Gerrans the following year.

    A big test for Ewan will be how he performs in Italy’s March 8-14 Tirreno-Adriatico stage race, which ends four days before Milan-San Remo.

    © AAP 2017

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