Robbie McEwen says Lance Armstrong will attack in Saturday's Tour Down Under stage
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

McEwen says Armstrong will attack Saturday

by Steve Jones at 10:46 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour Down Under

Team Katusha sprinter Robbie McEwen has been around the peloton for a long time. The 37-year-old is currently making a comeback at the Santos Tour Down Under after a dismal 2009 season that was plagued by injury. In today's second stage the Australian managed to sprint his way onto the podium behind double stage winner Andre Greipel (HTC-Columbia) and the victor in Sunday's warm-up race Greg Henderson (Team Sky).

McEwen has noticed a new engine in the leadout train in the year's first ProTour race - a face that nobody is used to seeing near the sharp end of the race setting up the sprint - seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.

There has been a lot of 'chatter' back and forth between the RadioShack captain and his former teammate Alberto Contador (Astana), and one of the main themes of the conversation was the importance of being a team player. It looks like for 2010 Armstrong plans to own the statements he made to the two-time Tour winner taking his job as a super-domestique seriously.

Armstrong told the Sydney Morning Herald, "Right now we are trying to get a stage win with [Gert] Steegmans. Some of the bumpier [stages] might wear out the sprinters a little bit. We are not used to doing a 'train' [to set up a sprint]. We have never practised that. We have only talked a bit."

While RadioShack is doing what they can for their Belgian sprinter, Armstrong admitted the team has a long way to go before their leadout will rival that of HTC-Columbia. "I was a little bit like a fish out of water there but I have never taken that train. Maybe the TGV at the Tour is the last train I've been on," he joked. Yesterday RadioShack's fastman took second place behind Greipel, but today he rolled across the line in 30th.

However, McEwen sees Armstrong's leadout days as temporary. He thinks the American is planning stamping his name on this year's Tour Down Under, pointing out Saturday's penultimate stage from Snapper Point to Willunga as the place where he will make his move.

"There is still a way to go in this tour, but I expect some big things, some big fireworks on Saturday," explained McEwen.

"You can see how aggressive RadioShack are riding in the sprints for Steegmans, but I expect 'LA' to go for it on Saturday. He is pulling the sprint. He's at the front, really active. So he is just warming the legs up for Saturday."

The Texan is likely itching to get his first win since coming out of retirement, but he knows a team like HTC-Columbia won't just let him ride away. "[Greipel] obviously has great form," Armstrong pointed out. "He's been doing intense training. He's definitely the man to beat."  While the overall might be a bit of a stretch, a stage win is certainly possible.

McEwen went on the impromptu "TwitterStrong" ride with Armstrong last week where more than 5,000 cyclists participated - perhaps Armstrong let him in on a little secret about stage five there...


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