Caleb Ewan is the big hope for pink (and victories) at Lotto-Soudal: “I want to win as many stages as possible”

With a stage win in the Tirreno-Adriatico, Caleb Ewan proved he was ready to shine in Milan-Sanremo, the big goal of the spring. But he got corona and was only able to raise his arms in the air again in the Tour of Turkey. “It was very unfortunate that I became ill,” the Australian said during a digital press moment on Thursday. I had a good preparation afterwards. The shape is fine. I don’t know if it’s the best shape ever (laughs)† But I am definitely one of the fastest of the pack.”

So McEwen gets several winning chances in the Giro. Starting Friday, although the arrival is steep. Five kilometers with gradients of up to eight percent. “I explored the ride and I have to say it was easier than I thought. However, it will be difficult. I have nothing to lose. I’ll try and see what happens.”

Ewan is the favorite for Mathieu van der Poel. “He will not release,” the Dutchman said on Wednesday. “I hope so,” Ewan responded. “It’s not a col of course, if you’re in the wheels you have a serious advantage. But many pure sprinters are not going to make it. I can sometimes pull my strings on such arrivals, so it’s not impossible. Taking the pink jersey would be fantastic. But if it doesn’t work out, I’ll definitely still have chances to win.”

Ewan could well become the stage hijacker in this Giro. “If it turns out that I am the best sprinter here and can only win one stage, I will not be satisfied. But if I’m not the fastest, I’d be happy with just one win. I will of course try to win as many as possible, that’s for sure. The opposition is great, there are many good sprinters at the start. Cavendish, Démare, Gaviria, Bennett… It will be great fun for cycling fans. And Mathieu van der Poel can take the points jersey in my opinion. He is fast and can climb well and will immediately create a gap with the real sprinters on the first day.”

Ewan will not win the points jersey himself, because even now he does not want to finish the Giro. “That would be a mistake in function of the Tour. I will let the last week pass me by. It’s all climbing anyway. If I feel I’m getting too tired, I’ll stop. Maybe I’ll do the three big laps. The Tour is certain and the Vuelta may also follow. Winning a stage in all three Grand Tours would be nice. But the main goal this autumn is the World Cup in our own country and we have to see what the best preparation is. That can be the Vuelta, but also not.”

In the Giro, Ewan has to miss his lead-out Jasper De Buyst, out with a collarbone fracture. “That’s a shame, now Rüdiger Selig will probably be my last man. He will do well, I am sure of that.”

Lotto-Soudal is also fighting relegation from the World Tour this season. Then it can put extra pressure on leader Ewan. “No. I put enough pressure on myself: when I start I want to win as many stages as possible. That points history doesn’t change that.”

Harm Vanhoucke: “Mountain jersey can be the goal”

For the mountain stages, Lotto-Soudal mainly counts on Harm Vanhoucke (24), who will start in his third Giro. “I don’t care about the final classification, I want to win a stage. I’ve been close to it a few times, hopefully it works now. There are good opportunities for the escapees in the last week and there are also opportunities in the second week. I didn’t choose a stage right away and want to be there in the fourth stage, arriving at Etna. I’ve always done well there. The Giro is also my favorite Grand Tour. I don’t like hot weather and it’s always hot in the Vuelta. But I also just love Italy and the games here. That was already the case in childhood.”

The mountains classification can be a target for the young climber. “It depends on which stages I attack and where I can take points. It will depend on how the game evolves.”

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