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Caleb Ewan wasted no time opening his account for 2022.
The Lotto-Soudal sprinter kicked past Martin Laas (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) at the Saudi Tour opener in Winter Park on Tuesday.
“There is no better way to kick off the season,” Ewan said after a multi-bike length win. “Of course, I am super happy to start the year this way but I am even more impressed by how the team worked for me today. They just did the perfect job.”
The result sees Ewan, 27, take early honors against close rivals like Gaviria and Dylan Groenewegen (BikeExchange-Jayco) in a season that will encompass Milano-Sanremo, the Giro d’Italia Tour de France, and much more.
And perhaps more importantly, it promised big things from the newly-assembled Lotto leadout unit.
The Belgian crew splashed the cash on a clutch of new talent in the off-season, and several of them were called into action as early as their debut race in Lotto’s red tunic.
Longtime leadout man Jasper de Buyst and a few of the new recruits navigated Ewan the melee of a late-stage stretch of gravel before giving the Aussie speedster and armchair ride to the line.
“They delivered me towards the finish line just perfectly. I only had to sprint for 100 metres. That is why this victory is one of the entire Lotto Soudal team,” Ewan said.
“Obviously, we wanted to win today. But the first time with a partly new lead-out is always exciting, but all credits to newcomers Rüdiger Selig and Jarrad Drizners. They did a great job immediately integrating into the team and together with the other guys, they brought me to the finish line just perfectly. It is nice to see all the hard work during winter immediately rewarded.”
The five-stage Saudi Tour rolls out of Taibah University for an uphill finish Wednesday. Ewan and his leadout crew should see two more sprint finishes as the race explores the Al-Ula region for the rest of the week.
2022 Saudi Tour Stage 1 Results
- Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal), 4:41:52
- Martin Laas (Bora-Hansgrohe), at s.t.
- Fernando Gaviria), (UAE Team Emirates), at s.t.