It is no secret that 2023 was a difficult season for Caleb Ewan, from a win tally that all but flat-lined to a team relationship that went ‘pear shaped’ and a run of ever so close calls that, had they fallen into place, could have turned it all around.
“I never really got the ball rolling,” said Ewan of the early part of his season. “And then it was just kind of all downhill from there.”
The rider had already had what he characterised as an ‘average year’ in 2022 where the calibre of the wins wasn’t up to his usual level or his hopes, but it was nothing on what was to come. The lows of 2023 ran far deeper than the normal ups and downs from season to season for the 29-year-old, who had so recently been unquestionably considered as one of the very best sprinters in the world.
“I was super motivated all the way until probably the Tour [de France] and even going to the Tour I was very hopeful with what I could do, considering the start of my season,” Ewan told Cyclingnews. “But I think the team obviously probably weren’t as hopeful as I was and I felt that in the support that they were giving me there.”
The preceding races weren’t his usual fare, his sprint train was understaffed, and Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) was on a scorching run of victories with the help of phenomenal lead-outs from Mathieu van der Poel. Even so, Ewan secured a third and second place on stages 3 and 4 of the Tour, but there wasn’t exactly a flood of warmth generated by the hard-earned podium spots.
To put the nail in the coffin of an already souring relationship, after Ewan battled on through to stage 13 before abandoning, there was yet another harsh public dressing down from new team CEO Stéphane Heulot.
“The thing is to win at the highest level like that you really need a full team rallying behind you and I guess if I can take any positives from the Tour again, I wasn’t so far off the pace,” said Ewan. “I almost won a stage so I know my level is still good enough to win the biggest races in the world but yeah I just need a fresh start, a team that’s excited to have me.”
And that is where Australian WorldTour team Jayco-AlUla comes in.
No career without winning
When we met with Ewan, it was in the Australian Road National Championships hub of his new team in Ballarat, where he was being lauded as a key player in the team’s…