McEwen predicts worlds will be tougher than expected
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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

McEwen predicts worlds will be tougher than expected

by Conal Andrews at 8:30 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, World Championships

Thus far, all the predictions have been that this year’s world championships are made for the bunch gallopers in the peloton. However one of those, Robbie McEwen, has checked out the course and he believes that the race will be a tougher affair than that.

“(It's) not a pure sprinter's course but it's for sprinters who can survive a difficult course and then round it off at the end,” McEwen told the Geelong Advertiser.

"I think come October there's going to be some very surprised internationals. They've been hearing that it's a sprinter's world championships course and thinking it's fairly flat but it's far from that," he said.

"When you go along the river, up Challambra (Cres) that's a very steep little climb. It's not overly long but after 200-plus kilometres it's going to really start to burn up there."

The climb averages eight percent and hits 13 percent steepness at one point.

McEwen’s previous best worlds result was on the flat Zolder course in 2002. He was second then, crossing the line just behind race winner Mario Cipollini (Italy) and ahead of bronze medallists Erik Zabel (Germany).

Since then, he’s finished fifth in Salzburg in 2006. That was regarded as a tough course but he coped well on the climbs, only losing out on the chance to win when the large front group split inside the final kilometre.

McEwen is now 37 years of age and knows he is running out of time to take the rainbow jersey. With Geelong probably the best chance remaining, he is determined to dig in it out, get over the climbs and be there at the finish.

"It's going to be a very tough race because it's not completely flat. I'm really going to have to hang in there,” he admitted. “We'll really have to work as a team to look after a couple of the team leaders but I think I can play a role in this worlds.

“I've just got to work out exactly where the finish is going to be in the centre of town because that also plays a role - if it's only a little bit up, a little bit flat or very uphill.”

He rode two laps of the course before the opening stage of the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic, and planned to repeat this several more times. He is then likely to try to find a similar circuit back in Europe and train hard on that.

McEwen will hope that advance knowledge of the course plus his long experience as a pro will help him in the October race, and see him hit the finish ahead of younger rivals such as Mark Cavendish (Great Britain).


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