Nine-time Santos Tour Down Under stage winner Caleb Ewan will be on the start line at his home country’s signature stage race in January, but not flashing the colours of his Lotto-Dstny trade team. Ewan, along with teammate Jarrad Drizners, will instead compete in the six-day WorldTour race with the Australian national team.
The Lotto-Dstny duo will compete alongside teammate Harry Sweeny at the start of the new year in the AusCycling Road National Championships, held in Ballarat from January 6-10. However, only Ewan and Drizners will remain to compete in the Tour Down Under and the 176km Cadel Evans Great Ocean Race, January 29, with the national team, according to a report by Het Laatste Nieuws (opens in new tab).
Details of those in the national team – which generally provides places for a combination of professional riders whose squads aren’t racing in Australia and promising domestic riders – are yet to be confirmed by AusCycling.
Earlier this week, the UCI confirmed Lotto-Dstny, formerly Lotto Soudal, had been relegated from the WorldTour and received a ProTeam licence for the 2023 season. Lotto-Dstny, along with Israel-Premier Tech, failed to score enough ranking points to finish in the top 18 teams in the three-year ranking used to decide the sporting criteria for the 2023 WorldTour.
Now as a ProTeam, Lotto-Dstny elected not to compete in the WorldTour races in Australia, where in the last edition of Tour Down Under they collected two sprint wins by Ewan and the Willunga Hill stage victory with Matthew Holmes.
“A conscious choice [was made] to have as many riders and staff as possible present at our first stage in January,” the team said to Het Laatste Nieuws, referring to the team racing in France at Grand Prix Cycliste Marseille on January 29 and Etoile de Bessèges, February 1-5, and then a focus on Opening Weekend and the run of Classics.
Both of Australia’s WorldTour races were last held in 2020, cancelled the past two seasons due to the global coronavirus pandemic. In addition to the two stages in the Tour Down Under, Ewan finished seventh in the one-day race. His best finish at the Great Ocean Road Race was in 2019 when he was second behind winner Elia Viviani.
Ewan missed selection to represent Australia at the 2022 UCI Road World Championships, and was ‘heartbroken’ to be left off the team at the event which was held on his home turf. The 266.9km course for the elite men’s road race with almost 4,000 metres of elevation gain…