Caleb Ewan has admitted he is finding his leadership role with Lotto Soudal tough as he continues an impressive start to the season.
Ewan has been the dominant sprinter at the Giro d’Italia, with the 26-year-old Australian rider taking the 11th Grand Tour stage of his career on Friday. He now leads the points jersey table.
While he is expected to keep his involvement in the race somewhat limited, he is doing so in order to preserve his fitness for the Vuelta Espana and the Tour de France, with the aim of becoming the first non-European to win stages in every Tour in a single year.
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As well as impressing with his own achievements, Ewan said on Friday that leading the team is, "not something that comes really natural for me, it's something I've had to work on since I turned pro."
"I really got thrown into the deep end very early on, because I had to start winning races straight away so I didn't have a mentor or anything to help me become a leader and I had to figure it out for myself."
Ewan explained that he would not be able to complete the Giro if he wanted to stay fresh for the next two Grand Tours.
"My goal remains the same for this year, and I need to do what's best in preparation for the Tour,” he said.
Unfortunately, sprinters' legs don't recover in the same way that any other riders do, and if I finished the Giro now I would be dying for the next few months.
"This year so far has been very tough with the weather and a lot of guys' legs are hurting a lot. I have to make sure I don't go so deep because if you do, it's hard to start again in the next Tour."
The Australian noted that he has changed his aerodynamic approach to sprinting, tailoring his effort to the type of sprint he is dealing with.
"To start with I trained a lot, but if I look at the two sprints I've done here, I'm not sprinting so aerodynamically as I used to," he said.
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"Instead, I've only been getting out late to do my sprint, so I've been more focussed on getting up to speed fast.
"When I use the aero position, I start my sprints earlier, and it was a way of helping me hold the speed. A day like today, when the sprint wasn't so fast, it was all about emptying my legs as quickly as possible."
"I think it'd be nice, not many people have done it before, I'd be the first non-European to do it and as cycling is a global sport, if I can go down in history because of that, I'd love to leave some sort of mark in cycling." he said on Friday.
"It's a tough thing to do now, a lot of guys are doing great things on the bike, but it's going well so far.
"However, there are another tough two Grand Tours coming up, and managing how I race them after this is going to be difficult. So it's a challenge, but I'm looking forward to it."
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