Caleb Ewan vows to go down swinging as Lotto-Soudal scrambles for survival: ‘Every point counts’

Ewan stays switched on after worlds snub as quest for UCI points sends him through series of low-tier classics.

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Caleb Ewan is burying the disappointment of missing his home road world championships by going deep to save his Lotto-Soudal team from relegation.

After missing the call for Wollongong, the Australian pocket rocket is racing his way through a series of small European one-dayers as Lotto-Soudal scrambles for survival in the final phase of this WorldTour-shaping season.

“I have to admit that normally I wouldn’t be that motivated for this kind of race,” Ewan after finishing second at Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen on Friday.

“If I had ridden a good Tour de France, I wouldn’t have been eager to race here. But we’ve ended up with a team in a situation where every point counts. That gives me a goal to train and race for. That makes it easier to get motivated.”

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Ewan suffered through the Tour and went away empty-handed this summer, but has been coming into form at a crucial time.

The 28-year-old opened a stacked fall schedule of one-day races with victory in GP de Fourmies last weekend and finished second Friday to amass a total of 285 UCI points for his struggling team.

Lotto-Soudal currently sits in the WorldTour “relegation zone” and is chasing after BikeExchange-Jayco in the quest to remain in the top tier for the next three seasons.

The Belgian team has been canny in selecting its race schedules all season, chasing points in off-key races in favor of gambling against stronger startlists. Lotto-Soudal currently sits on 25 victories for the year, more than it accumulated in 2020 and 2021 combined.

“I’m confident we can stay in the WorldTour, but obviously everything has to go right, and at the moment we’re not in [the “safe zone”], so the pressure’s on,” Ewan said.

Ewan has promised to stay with Lotto-Soudal, no matter what.

With a contract stretching through 2024, Ewan could be relying on wildcard invites for the biggest races in the next two years if his team drops from the WorldTour.

“We have to keep working, and who knows, we may still be able to overtake teams that are now ranked higher,” he said. “If Arnaud De Lie and I continue to take points here [in Belgium and France] and Tim Wellens and Andreas Kron can score in the Italian races, we’ll be good.”

Wollongong worlds ‘will hurt to watch’

The late-season hunt for points gives Ewan a welcome distraction from seeing his Aussie teammates on recon rides ahead of the road world championships in the coming week.

The 28-year-old speedster made the home worlds the center of his ambitions for 2022, only to be bypassed by national team selectors as they focussed on Michael Matthews, Jai Hindley, and Ben O’Connor.

“It’s still disappointing. I will probably never get another chance to ride a world championships in my own country,” Ewan said.

“It’s going to hurt to watch, mostly because I feel like it’s going to be a reduced sprint of 40 or 50 riders, and that would have been perfect for me.”

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