As the men’s team of Mitchelton SCOTT start to arrive in Adelaide ahead of the Tour Down Under, three of our riders, including sprinter Caleb Ewan, new Australian champion Alex Edmondson and South African Daryl Impey spoke to the press.
Here’s some highlights of what they had to say:
Why has the team been announced later than the other teams?
“To create a bit of excitement, we lost Luke (Durbridge) at the national championships, which is a great lost for the team, but we’re happy that Cam (Cameron Meyer) is going to be coming in to support us.”
“I think the team we’ll be seeing this year is no different from previous years, we’ve got the same kind of guys.”
“We’re looking forward to a great Down Under.”
Have you got any chances this year?
“I think it’s going to be quite interesting with the sprints stages, there’s a lot more sprinters this year than in previous years. André Greipel has come back, Viviani’s back, Peter Sagan is here.”
“It will be hard to win the overall, I’m not going to say it’s out of our reach, but I think we have to give it a notion, we’ll try our best and hopefully our best is good enough, but definitely for the sprint stages, we’ve got a fantastic chance.”
Is the fact that you’re going for individual stages rather than GC – a plan or an honest assessment?
“It’s an honest assessment, I think we’ve definitely assembled a team around Caleb.”
“We’ve got a lot of guys that have got the experience.”
“And then there’s guys like me and Cam that have ridden GCs, Cam has won this Tour before.”
“I don’t think it’s our responsibility to try and control the race for the general classification.”
“Definitely I wouldn’t put ourselves out of the area of the guys that can win the race.”
Is it a good pressure to have all the focus on you and not on the GC?
“I’m used to it from the past few years, because all the sprint stages they have ridden for me anyway and I think if Daryl (Impey) is here in good form then he can have a good GC as well.”
Who do you think is going to be the biggest rival in the sprints between Greipel, Viviani and Sagan?
“It’s always hard to tell because you don’t know how people arrive, what form they come with.”
“I think Viviani will be one of the quick ones and obviously Greipel, he knows how to win here as well. After few years away, I think he’ll be back in good form.”
What are your expectations?
“Obviously I’ve got high expectations after the past few years.”
“I won four stages last year so I guess the expectation is going to be the same this year.”
“I’m going to do my best and hopefully I’ll come away with a few stage wins again.”
Why not six stage wins?
“Unfortunately I think that’s almost impossible for me because I definitely can’t go up the hills with the likes of Richie Porte.”
What have worked on in your off-season?
“I haven’t changed the all lot, the last few years, my build up to January has been quite good so I think it was best to not really change so much.”
“I think I’m in good form again, I’m another year stronger hopefully, so I can get some good results again.”
Do you analyse yourself on video?
“Not a whole lot about the actual position I’m in, but the position I’m in the bunch and all that kind of stuff, seeing how’re my arrivals and sprinting and what works for them and what doesn’t. There’s all those little things that you can watch and learn from.”
Who’s the sneakiest sprinter?
“I think probably the most crafty would be Viviani, especially from his track background.”
“Usually the guys that come off the track are pretty crafty.”
What is the quality of the sprint field for this year’s race?
“This is definitely the strongest sprint field that we’ve seen.”
How are those colours (referred to the Australian Champion’s jersey)?
“It’s pretty special to be able to pull on the green and gold stripes. I guess I’ve been able to represent Australia on the track, but now to be able to wear it on the road it’s something really special”
Is the support going to lift you or put a bit more weight on you shoulders?
“Anytime you get to ride here in Adelaide, especially as I’ve grown up here, it’s something pretty special.”
“Being able to ride Tour Down Under, another thing I always wanted to be able to do, and now I can ride it with the green and gold, it’s a dream come true.”
“I’m really looking forward to getting out there and being able to show it off, I spend of my time in Europe, but to be able to do it here (wear the jersey) in Australia is really cool.”
How’s your confidence heading in?
“I think it’s always good whenever you can get a win and you can throw your hands in the air.”
“I know that my role is to try and help Caleb and help our other teammates.”
“I think Sunday was a very special day for me, but now it’s about getting back to the routine and being able to play the team role to help my teammates to get as many victories as possible.”
How do you think this year different from the others?
“For me it’s completely different, last time I rode this race was in 2015 I was in UNISA, now I’m here in an Australian professional team Mitchelton-SCOTT”
“And this year being able to wear this jersey, which is something of really special, it still gives me goosebumps, I’m still struggling to sleep at night.”
“I’m just really looking forward to being a part of it and trying to see if we can outdo what Caleb managed to do last year.”
Does this adrenaline spur you on?
“I’m just absolutely thrilled, I always smile but now I think my smile is even bigger. Dreams really do come true.”
Was one of your goals in your carrier to win the title?
“Yes, of course. I think any cyclist always wants to win. I think the national title is a really important race. For me it has always been a dream come true.”
“I thought I was going to Buninyong to help my teammates, we had a really strong team with a lot of different cards to play.”
“I was there thinking that I would just go and help the teammates. If you said in the morning that I was going to have the green and gold, I probably would have laughed at you.”
“Everything seemed to go my way, I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to represent the jersey and I hope I can do it proud.”
Is it an interesting dynamic for a national champion to say he’s here to help out Caleb?
“It probably does look like that from the outside, but I know my role, I know the goals that the team has and the expectations.”
“At the moment I’m doing everything I can for the team, it’s always nice to throw your hands in the air, but I know that here with the likes of Caleb, he’s one of the best guys around the world.”
“I know that if I can deliver him in the right spot, I know that he’s going to be able to finish the job.”
Is the target four out of six for Caleb?
“We won’t be happy if we don’t get at least a few (wins).”