McEwen more motivated than ever, aiming to upstage Cavendish
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Thursday, February 4, 2010

McEwen more motivated than ever, aiming to upstage Cavendish

by Conal Andrews at 7:20 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

Mental energy recharged after an enforced break from racing, Australian veteran Robbie McEwen has said that he draws a lot of motivation from the thoughts of trying to beat Mark Cavendish and the other young, talented sprinters in 2010.

The triple Maillot Vert winner acknowledges that the Briton is hugely gifted, and has a very good support crew. “The new generation is very strong. I think that Cavendish is more talented than me in my best years,” he told “I was flattered to learn that he had got so much information on me from a trainer who had followed me from when I was young. He is very strong and can count on a very professional team; as an example, Erik Zabel rides and walks each of the finishes to be able to take into account all of the information about the home straight. And it’s not just him…Andre Greipel in Australia was also really tough.

But all that said, it doesn’t make him throw in the towel. “It’s my job to beat the other riders,” he said, showing that he is going to get on with the task at hand and find a way to come out on top.

The Team Katusha pro feels that the departure of some key riders could give other riders the chance to break the HTC Columbia domination. “Will his train be as good as last year?” he asked, rhetorically. “They have lost several important pieces, like Hincapie and Boasson Hagen. HTC Columbia will perhaps be less dominant in the final kilometres of the sprints.”

McEwen is confident that he can return to his winning ways, redisplaying the form that earned him some very prestigious victories over a long career. “I am sure of that. I feel that I am pushing forward,” he said. “Because of my toughest season in 2009, I feel that I have more motivation than in the past. Especially with the idea of beating the younger generation.

Bouncing back, aiming to race on past 40:

Now 37 years of age, he has the enthusiasm of a young rider and plans to continue on for quite some time yet. The key to his attitude is a potentially disastrous crash he had last year in the Tour of Belgium; McEwen fell heavily and broke his tibia, as well as incurring other injuries.

There were initially some questions about whether he’d be able to return to racing, but he’s worked hard and shown remarkable determination. The result of that can be seen in his recent performances in Australia, where he was third in the Cancer Council Helpline Classic, then went on to finish fourth overall in the Santos Tour Down Under, as well as taking second, third and fourth on stages.

“After being on the sidelines for more than half of last season, I am really hungry for the bike,” he said, showing that the enforced break meant that he had time to reflect. “And I am as hungry for victories. 2009 was very difficult to live, mentally. But I’m hooked. It made me realise how much I love my job, and how much I missed my sport, as well as the competition. I also missed feeling like an athlete, in good physical condition.

“Before my accident, I saw myself continuing up to 40 years of age, even if that is a question of motivation, and much can vary depending on circumstances. But having missed the bike so much last year, I would not mind extending it even longer! At least both Armstrong and Voigt are still there, so I am not the oldest in the peloton.”

He has now returned to Europe and will line out in the first of the Mallorca Challenge races on Sunday. He has a good programme of racing and will be targeting early success in races such as the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Milan-San Remo and Gent Wevelgem. He’s looking forward to those races and his confidence is clearly returning.

“My return to Australia reassured me; I was there a lot in the Tour Down Under, not far from the victory, even if I still lack some explosiveness,” he said. “But when you see that I finished fourth in the final classification, alongside riders like Sanchez, Evans and Valverde, who did the race, it is encouraging. And to find myself fourth in the ProTour is very motivating.”

Like his fellow Australian Cadel Evans, McEwen gives the impression that he is thoroughly enjoying racing this year. If motivation, determination and appreciation for the sport count for anything, he could well be on the way to a great season, and one where his younger rivals get a surprise or two.



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