Aiming for first Paris-Tours win, Robbie McEwen upbeat about his condition
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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Aiming for first Paris-Tours win, Robbie McEwen upbeat about his condition

by Shane Stokes at 6:40 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Paris-Tours
Recent victories boost morale and motivation of Australian sprinter

Robbie McEwenHaving won the first and last stages of the Tour de Wallonie Picarde and taken the final overall GC last Sunday, Robbie McEwen is feeling good about his shape heading into today’s Paris-Tours.

The end of season contest is known as the sprinter’s Classic but while his famed finishing kick has won him twelve stages of the Tour de France plus five editions of Paris-Brussels, he hasn’t yet won the French race. In what will be his last participation, he’s hoping to correct that statistic.

“Condition-wise I think I’m exactly where I need to be to be able to win it,” he told VeloNation this week. “After that, it’s down to how well I’m actually going on the day, and of course how well the others are going. Also, how the race pans out and if we can have control over how the race actually works out in the final.

“There are a lot of unknowns, but I think my legs are good enough to play a role. Obviously if I’m going to win it, it’s going to happen in a sprint. But I’m fairly confident that I’m going well enough.”

McEwen had an at-times tough season with his sole previous win in 2011 being July’s Tour de Wallonie. The RadioShack rider’s coming good at the end of the year, though, and started today’s race fully psyched.

In recent years the outcome has been a little less certain to end in a big gallop. Although Oscar Freire (Rabobank) prevailed in a bunch sprint last year, the lumpy parcours provided a platform for Philippe Gilbert to win out of breaks in 2008 and 2009.

McEwen knows that explosive riders like Gilbert are a danger today, but believes that conditions are different to before. “From what I’ve been able to pick up on so far, I think the course has been changed to the favour of the sprinters. I’ve seen the profile of the last ten kilometres…there are only two small hills in the last ten. You have got the regular sort of final, but at the very end there’s one hill less then there was before just because of the approach they have got to take.

“Also, while the run in along the Avenue de Grammont is shorter, there’s more kilometres between the last hill and the finish. Before it was like five kilometres to go from the top of the last hill, now it’s seven. So, that’s in the favour of the sprinters…you used to have guys like Gilbert jump up the front and just staying away by a few seconds. Now they have to hang on for an extra two kilometres if they want to attack on the last climb. That is an advantage for the sprinters, but of course Paris-Tour is the race that is of course heavily influenced by the weather too.”

McEwen knows the race could be an unpredictable one but said that there were several riders that he will be watching closely in the race. “The rivals are guys in good end of season form, like, for instance, Mathew Hayman. He is riding really strongly and won this week [Paris-Bourges – ed]. There’s quite a few guys from Sky [going well] – Greg Henderson, CJ Sutton. I see Baden Cooke has had two second places this week, he is riding very well.”

If it comes down to a straight up sprint, there’s one rider that everyone will be watching. McEwen will be no different. “Of course Cav [Cavendish],” he said, making it clear that he considers him a big favourite. “It’s going to be his only realistic shot at winning the world jersey this season…he may come the start of Piemonte and Lombardia, but that would be just to show the jersey.

“Paris-Tours is a big chance for him, to see how he is going after not racing for a couple of weeks. If he is in a race that’s suited to sprinters, he’s one of the favourites.”

However McEwen considers that he too has a chance. Taking three wins in four days last week has convinced him that his form is good and as he prepares for what will be a final pro season racing with the GreenEdge team, the 39 year old remains hungry for big victories.


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