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Ewan and team dominate in cycling

  • Ewan and team dominate in cycling

Caleb Ewan's rapidly-blooming career has reached another milestone, with the Australian cycling star winning his first senior elite national championship.

The 21-year-old sprint ace and his Orica-GreenEDGE teammates dominated the elite's men criterium on Wednesday night at the Mars Australian titles in Ballarat.

Ewan said post-race that his overriding emotion was relief.

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"I was clearly a favourite for today and obviously there's a fair of pressure going into a race as the favourite," Ewan said.

"But I can't fault the team at all, they rode it perfectly.

"They gave me such an easy ride out there ... that's what makes the difference at the end."

Last year, Ewan only had former teammate Leigh Howard for support when he finished second in the nationals criterium.

Ewan then also impressed with second place as part of a full Orica-GreenEDGE lineup in the nationals road race.

This time, he had much stronger support for the criterium and they dominated.

Rivals tried to usurp the Orica-GreenEDGE sprint train on the last lap and the frantic jockeying for position caused Neil Van Der Ploeg to crash.

But teammate Alex Edmondson gave Ewan a perfect leadout through and the second-year professional won by several lengths.

Brenton Jones was second and 2012 criterium champion Anthony Giacoppo took third.

Orica-GreenEDGE only had to look at the women's elite race earlier on Wednesday night for evidence that they could take nothing for granted.

Their Orica-AIS colleagues had four riders in the pivotal nine-women break, but unheralded rider Sophie Mackay had a stunning upset win.

Orica-AIS rider Lizzie Williams, who was second, admitted she was not looking forward to the post-race team debrief.

But the Orica-GreenEDGE men made no errors and Ewan continues to show he is a ruthlessly-efficient sprinter.

Wednesday's national title came two days after Ewan won the Mitchelton Bay Classic criterium series for the third time.

"Today is just nice to come away and not show that last year was sort of a fluke," Ewan said.

While Ewan showed last year he can be a big factor on the hilly Buninyong circuit, he is unsure what his role will be in Sunday's road race.

Two-time champion Simon Gerrans will return from injury to lead Orica-GreenEDGE.

"To be honest, I really don't know what the team is going to make me do," Ewan said.

But he admitted to lofty ambitions if the race pans out to his advantage.

"I'm still looking forward to the road race, that's the big one you really want to win, so hopefully I can go well there as well," he said.

Also on Wednesday, Jesse Kerrison and Jessica Munday won the under-23 criterium titles.

The championships continue on Thursday with the time trials at Buninyong, near Ballarat.

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