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Ewan out to prove at Giro he's still the pocket rocket

Caleb Ewan believes he is still one of the rocket men in the cycling's pro peloton -- and he's determined to prove it by adding to his list of stage triumphs at the Giro d'Italia.

Speaking on the eve of the 107th edition of the great Italian tour in Turin, the diminutive Australian sprinter fondly known as the "pocket rocket" after his 61 career wins, reckoned he had rediscovered a good place after a couple of years in the doldrums.

Back where he started his pro career, at the Australian outfit now rebranded as Team Jayco AlUla, the 29-year-old reflected on Friday that all his training figures indicated he was just as fast as he had ever been.

And enjoying being back with his original team, he nodded when asked if he still believed he was still one of the fastest riders in the world, saying: "Yeah, I think so.

"I don't feel like I have anything to prove as such, but obviously I want to get back to winning more often as I did a few years ago.

Caleb Ewan
Ewan crashed on the opening stage of the Giro in Budapest in 2022. (AP PHOTO)

"I think I'm in the right environment to do it now, and I think my form is really good. So I can only compare to my own form from the previous years and it seems to be up there with my best.

"It's always hard to tell it until you start racing, but for now I feel really good and think I can definitely compete with the best, sure. I don't think you can really tell until you actually start racing and see the form of your competitors, but, for now I feel really good."

Ewan hasn't won a Grand Tour stage since the 2021 Giro - his fifth in the Italian race and the last of his 11 victories in total - and he's subsequently had all manner of struggles, crashes and near-misses over his last four injury-strewn Grand Tours.

His confidence took a huge hit at his previous team, Lotto-Dstny, whose manager Stephane Heulot publicly chastised him after he abandoned the Tour de France, and he ended his contract with the Belgian team early in an acrimonious split to rejoin Jayco.

"It is really nice to be back and if there's a team that can get me back to my best, I think this is the one," said Ewan, who's won two races this year in Jayco's colours and is determined to finish the Giro for the first time in his six outings. "It's really good to be back."

Only one man in this year's Giro field has won more than Ewan's 11 stage wins in Grand Tours - and that's Slovenia's overwhelming race favourite Tadej Pogacar, who has 14 to his name.

Another Australian Giro stage winner who'll be looking to impress is Alpecin-Deceuninck's Kaden Groves, who's had a fairly quiet season so far.

"I think he should go pretty good. I haven't seen what he's done in the last few weeks leading up to this, but if we go off his performances last year, then he was super strong," said Ewan.