Caleb Ewan has pulled out of the Tirreno-Adriatico race because of a stomach ailment but mainly as a precaution so that he’s fit for another major crack at the Milan-San Remo classic next week.
Australia’s top road race sprinter was in some discomfort when he decided to abandon the coast-to-coast Italian stage race on Friday.
His Belgian team Lotto Soudal later stressed that Ewan had only “mild gastro-enteritis”, making it clear that his withdrawal was more to do with him being in top shape for one of his season’s big aims.
“Caleb Ewan has withdrawn from the race as he has been suffering from mild gastro-enteritis,” said Lotto Soudal in a tweet.
“The decision to abandon was taken in order to not jeopardise his participation at Milan-San Remo this coming Saturday.”
“Caleb suffered from gastritis and blockages three days ago,” team doctor Maarten Meirhaeghe told Het Nieuwsblad.
“Today, he felt completely empty halfway through the ride, the feeling of a hunger pounding. It was advisable not to force and to dismount in such a situation.
“Consequences for Milan-San Remo? We suspect that a few days of rest will be enough to recover.”
Ewan had come into the race in good spirits after winning his first race of the season on the final stage of the UAE tour and he’d fancied another victory on the opening stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, only to be pipped by Wout van Aert.
The “pocket rocket” Ewan wants to be at his best for Milan-San Remo, the ‘Spring Classic’ in which he finished runner-up three years ago, winning the sprint for the runner’s up spot behind Vincenzo Nibali.
The 26-year-old from Sydney has already said his main aim for the year is an ambitious bid to win stages at each of the three grand tours, the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana.
Ewan, who’s taken nine grand tour stages in total, has previously achieved wins in all three races but no-one has achieved the feat in the same year since Italy’s Alessandro Petacchi in 2003.