Ewan's new approach to reap Tour dividends
Caleb Ewan hopes a new approach to the Australian summer will increase his chances of building upon his breakout Grand Tour performances of last year.
The Australian sprint ace produced a massive 2019 campaign, claiming two Giro d'Italia stage wins and three on debut at the Tour de France in his first season with Belgian squad Lotto-Soudal.
But the associated increase in expectations and pressure - some of it self-imposed - prompted a rethink of his preparation for the long year ahead.
Unlike recent seasons, Ewan bypassed the Australian national championships and the Bay Crits, opting to return from his annual break at the Tour Down Under.
"It is a long season, especially now when I have to be hitting targets in July," Ewan said.
"I didn't have to do it before, but now it's becoming a long year.
"It's a little bit hard to peak now and keep peaking for the season."
The change in schedule has meant Ewan has only competed at five race days since the Tour de France last July.
But it doesn't seem to have affected the 25-year-old's form in South Australia heading into the Tour Down Under, which begins on Tuesday.
Ewan opened the new season by claiming the Schwalbe Classic for a record fourth time around a tight Adelaide street circuit on Sunday night.
The race was just the second his infant daughter Lily had been present for, and resulted in a second win.
The first was his second Tour de France stage win, in Nimes.
"Maybe she's my good luck charm," he said.
Ewan has banked seven career Tour Down Under stage wins but was unable to add to the tally last year.
He crossed the line first on stage five but was handed a time penalty for an "irregular final sprint" that saw him stripped of the win.
This year, he is confident he can find the sort of form that snared him the blue sprint jersey in 2017.
"I think I've had five months off racing, so I didn't know where my legs were going to be, but I'm happy with where my form's at," Ewan said.