McEwen not happy about Milan-Sanremo absence
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Thursday, March 18, 2010

McEwen not happy about Milan-Sanremo absence

by Conal Andrews at 6:36 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Milan-Sanremo

Robbie McEwen has expressed frustration with his non-selection for Saturday’s Milan-Sanremo Classic, saying that the Katusha team management simply excluded him from the team without any discussion.

The Australian sprinter announced yesterday on Twitter that he would not be riding the race. At the time, it was interpreted as being a decision that he had an input into, but he has clarified the situation and is certainly not happy.

“I really thought I would ride Milan-Sanremo,”McEwen told Het Nieuwsblad. “But I’m just a pawn in a team and have to accept the choice of those in charge.

“On Tuesday morning, shortly before the start of the last stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, [general] manager Andrei Tchmil and the team manager Serge Parsani came inside the bus", says McEwen. “They gave us their selection for Milan-Sanremo. I was not there. They opted for a [single] leader, Filippo Pozzato. The team would go all the way in his service,” he said, then added bitterly, “For me, there was no place.”

McEwen is not a one day specialist, but with other teams such as Quick Step, Rabobank and Milram bringing along their sprinters Tom Boonen, Oscar Freire and Alessandro Petacchi, he knows that there is a chance the race could end in a big bunch sprint. Providing he made it over the Poggio, he would be capable of taking on those riders.

Consequently, he said that the decision was an unexpected one. “It was not previously discussed with me. I felt good enough to race, but the team management opted for a different tactic. It has its advantages. With one leader the approach is clear. But the risk is that no plan B is available if something should happen to Pozzato.

“Now, they have made a choice. They decide based on what they have seen. Or what they think they have seen.”

McEwen conceded that he was fatigued after competing in Tirreno-Adriatico, where he was fourth and seventh on stages. But he insists that this is no different to the others who did the race, and that he would have recovered in time.

“I’m tired, like all the others who raced Tirreno,” he said. “It was actually a very hard race, where every day was climbing, until the final stage.

"In Montecatini Terme, where Tom Boonen won, I came fourth on a stage which was ridden on a parcours like Milan-Sanremo. So I think I'm doing good. No, correction, I know that the direction is good. Three days rest after Tirreno was perfect and then I would be ready for service.”

The 37 year old makes it clear that he is disillusioned. 'I have gladly ridden, that is a fact. I have also worked very hard for this. In January I was already pretty good, and I have worked bit by bit towards this target,” he said, confirming that a brief flare-up of his knee problem in Het Nieuwsblad was completely resolved.

“I wouldn’t start as one of the big favourites, but with Milan-Sanremo you never know. We will see Saturday whether or not I should have had a place, but by then of course it will be too late. I will focus now on Waregem and Gent-Wevelgem, then with the Three Days of De Panne and the Scheldeprijs.”

Pozzato is listed as one of the race favourites and indeed is a past winner of Milan-Sanremo. However, as last year’s Classic season showed, he simply followed the wheels of rivals like Tom Boonen in several of the races and appeared to lack the killer instinct to really grit his teeth and finish things off. He’ll need to have that mental strength and focus to triumph on Saturday, and thus justify McEwen’s absence.



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