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Robbie McEwen: "I like it when its a little more disorganised."

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18.02.2008/ Robbie McEwen will have a hard time at this years Tour de France. As the Silence - Lotto team wants to win the overall with Cadel Evans, McEwen will have to battle alone at the stage sprints. But McEwen is a rider who never gives up and it seems like it gives him even more motivation to take a stage (or two, three?) and to battle for the green jersey.

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Robbie McEwen during our interview ( Cyclingheroes)

Cyclingheroes: Robbie, you are one of the people who had the idea to start an Australian team which should start at high profile races like the Tour de France...
 
Robbie McEwen: Yeah hopefully one day it will happen. At the moment they [team director Paul Varcoe, editor] are still talking with several possible sponsors, they still have to find a major sponsor to go ahead. The aim was to start at the 2009 season, but if that doesn't happen they will keep working at it and hopefully then it will happen in the 2010 season. Whether I still will be riding in 2010.. I doubt it but even if it happens after I stopped riding, I still would like to see it happen.
 
Cyclingheroes: Australia is one of the few countries where cycling is really booming at the moment...
 
Robbie McEwen: I think with the performance of Australian riders in the last five or six years: winning Tour stages and that sort of things... Cycling has become a lot more popular. In the last Tour Cadel [Evans, editor] was second and that also got a lot of attention in Australia. But even befor last year, so many people were watching the Tour de France on tv and they follow it in newspapers and on the internet... It is very very popular. Even despite the problems that cycling has experienced over the last couple of years, it is still a growing sport in Australia.
 
Cyclingheroes: Did you have a good winter?
 
Robbie McEwen: I did not have a great summer in Australia [In Australia its summer when we have winter, editor]. One: because the weather wasn't fantastic. We've had a hell of a lot of rain over the summer, it actually broke the drouht of about seven or eight years. We've had an incredible amount of rain through December and January. Apart from that I had a bit of a problem with my left leg... with a couple of tendons. I had that fixed but it put me 3 or 4 weeks behind of where I would normally be, so I am working away that deficit and want to get myself into top form by the time that Milano - San Remo comes around.

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Robbie McEwen in London... ( Cyclingheroes)

Cyclingheroes: During the team presentation you said you want to focus more on the spring races...
 
Robbie McEwen: Well, I have always wanted to but its a very difficult time for me because I have a bit of trouble in the early part of the season with getting sick. I have two little kids that go to school and come home sick and then I get sick...[Robbie laughs, editor] Its something that a lot of people experience, so its a difficult time of the year. You are always at risk to get a cold. So I have to be a bit lucky that I don't get sick but last year it worked out. I peaked a little bit later as in other years where I already had a good form at the Tour Down Under and was really lean so I got sick easier. Last year I came to Europe with one and a half or almost two kilo's over weight. Over really lean racing weight and I think it helped. I had a few more reserves and that helped against sickness and not get run down. I have done it the same way this time. Just a kilo, a kilo and a half and hopefully I have the same result and stay healthy. Last year I had a good result, I was fourth in Milano - San Remo, even though I crashed. I got blocked in. I nearly crashed in the last kilometre again and still came in fourth. So with all that, I believe its a race I can win.
 

Cyclingheroes: You always fight your way through. What do you think of teams that are using a big train with always the same procedure?

Robbie McEwen: Well its like a procedure, like a surgery. They go in and do the same thing every time. For me.. if they are able to do it, it makes the sprint predictable but it doesn't leave many options. You have to be in the right place. Let's say its Petacchi being led out by Milram. You have to be in his wheel otherwise youre not gonna win. Its a pretty big task to get in his wheel because you have to battle for it with four, five or six other guys. Nearly every time I win its a little bit different and I like doing it that way. Its more exiting [McEwen laughs, editor]. Its about winning and weather you are winning in a boring way or in an exiting way, youre still winning. I mean, you've gotta do the sprint in the way that suits you best and for Petacchi or Boonen that way is being led out at high speed, and trying to put everything in a line, so only the rider who is in their wheel has any chance to beat them. I like it a little more disorganised or if I can get in the wheel of the lead out train easily and just save energy and really just go once.. Close to the line. Everybody has the right to sprint the way they feel is the best for them.

Cyclingheroes: Will you ride the Giro again? For two weeks again?

Robbie McEwen: Something like that. I am not 100% sure yet. But I will ride the Giro. I have said it for a while now... One year I would like to finish it and win in Milano but this year there is a time trial on the last day, so I am not going to win in Milano.

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McEwen is a 3 times green jersey winner... ( Cyclingheroes)

Cyclingheroes: Did you already looked at the route of the Tour?

Robbie McEwen: Yes I have looked at it. I know the start is in Brittany and the first finish is in Plumelec. Its a very hard finish. I think it will be automaticly a sprint but its a very difficult finish. I know Erik Zabel won there.. I think it was 1997. The first week is a little bit more flat, but actually only the first four days before you go into a couple of more hilly stages. The first big day is at stage six [With the mountain top finish at Super-Besseges, editor]. Then you get a couple of more flat stages. The flat stages this year are more spread out throughout the Tour. But there are still plenty of opportunities for sprinters.

Cyclingheroes: Cadel Evans will be the captain, I assume that will make it hard for you to win the green jersey...

Robbie McEwen: I have won the green jersey three times and I realise that the team really wants to go after the yellow jersey. If I happen to be wearing green or if I am in a position to battle for the green jersey, I know that I can't expect the whole team to sacrifice for a tactic for the green jersey. Like a couple of years ago there was a breakaway with a couple of sprinters in it and the whole team chased that break down but now we have to save as many guys as possible to help Cadel [Evans, editor]. So riding a tactic with the whole team defending the green jersey is not an option. But that also puts the responsibility back on other teams and other riders who are building their whole team around a sprinter and the green jersey. So its no problem for me. 

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