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Q&A with Robbie McEwen: From ribs to Romandie

Robbie McEwen of Davitamon-Lotto won the rainy first stage of the Tour de Romandie on Wednesday, the most important day of the race for the Australian sprinter. After his respectable finish in the previous day’s prologue in Geneva (he finished 29th, 12:53 behind winner Paolo Savoldelli), he spoke to VeloNews at length about his race, his rib injury last month, and his expectations for the Tour de Romandie. McEwen had gone early in the race, in order to leave more time for cooling down and getting a massage. The road was dry when he raced, and he said he hoped rain would arrive to impede the

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By Nathaniel Vinton, Special to VeloNews

McEwen's back where he likes to be, in the thick of the action

McEwen’s back where he likes to be, in the thick of the action

Photo: AFP

Robbie McEwen of Davitamon-Lotto won the rainy first stage of the Tour de Romandie on Wednesday, the most important day of the race for the Australian sprinter. After his respectable finish in the previous day’s prologue in Geneva (he finished 29th, 12:53 behind winner Paolo Savoldelli), he spoke to VeloNews at length about his race, his rib injury last month, and his expectations for the Tour de Romandie.

McEwen had gone early in the race, in order to leave more time for cooling down and getting a massage. The road was dry when he raced, and he said he hoped rain would arrive to impede the later riders. He was joking, but the rain didn’t come anyway, and Discovery Channel’s Savoldelli was the winner.

VeloNews: How are you feeling?

Robbie McEwen: Pretty good. My broken rib is totally healed. I got sick a few weeks ago but that went over pretty quick. I’ve been training lately, and I haven’t raced much at all. You could almost say I haven’t raced in a month. I broke my rib at the beginning of March, and I kept racing, but I couldn’t be 100 percent.

VN: What kind of injury was it?

RM: The fifth rib on the right side, so high up. It was on the outside curve of the ribcage. Anything to do with my breathing, any muscle, stopped me. The rib sends out a signal to the rest and it blocks you up.

VN: What are your expectations?

RM: I’ve been training to get ready for the Giro and this. This is a stepping stone to the Giro, but I want to do something here because it’s been such a long time that I’ve been able to race 100 percent. The last day I was 100 percent, I won, and the next day I was going to win, but I crashed. I come here motivated to race and build up some race condition.

VN: How did you prepare for the prologue?

RM: I probably raced more laps than anybody before the start. I probably did a good 45 minutes on the course, eight laps or something like that, testing the corners and finding the best line, seeing what gear I should use coming out of the hairpins. I just wanted to do a good solid prologue. Now I’m ready for [Wednesday’s] sprint, since it’s been a while since I’ve been able to do one.

VN: Will you do the whole Tour de Romandie?

RM: I’m not riding the last day here, the time trial. It’s no use to me. I’ll try to get through Saturday. It’s going to be really hard. That gives me a week before the Giro. I’ll recuperate for a few days, and then I’ll work on some sprint-specific stuff, just to get really sharp for the Giro. I’m not going to be short of kilometers.

VN: Any thoughts of pulling out for Saturday’s race? It looks like a monster.

RM: No, because I feel like I need the racing. I’ll see how the stage goes. If they go straight out of the blocks on the first big climb, and I’m dropped, I’ll see. I’ll see what the weather’s like. If it’s nice weather I’ll ride to the finish. I just need to do the race and get into the peloton on the first day. I hope it’ll be easy over the first climb.

VN: Predictions for the general classification here?

RM: Doesn’t even interest me at all. The guys getting ready for the Giro, obviously, will be right up there near the front. My race is tomorrow [Wednesday]. Romandie is like a one-day race for me. There’s hardly any sprinters here because of the course. I’m just here to get ready for the Giro.

VN: What’s important to you this season?

RM: The Tour, for me. As a sprinter I’m judged by what I do on the Tour. The Giro is probably second. I want to be 100 percent for the Tour, and I want to be doing well at the Giro, but I’ve found I have good days and bad days at the Giro. I’ve been able to have good days on the right day here the last few years.

VN: How is it having the Americans on your team?

RM: It’s good, although I haven’t seen them much. I don’t do the same program as [Chris] Horner, and I’ve only seen Freddie [Rodriguez] at the team presentation. After that I haven’t seen him. We’ll race together at the Tour de Suisse probably. Chris will do the Dauphiné. He knows what his job will be at the Tour and he can help both sides of the team. He’s really useful. It’s good having both those guys. Freddie’s really experienced. Being a sprinter, he’s a perfect guy to lead out a sprint. I found he did a really good job of it last year.