By Shane Stokes in Bosa
Another Giro, another stage win. Robbie McEwen was back on top today, bringing his Tour of Italy stage win tally up to a dozen.
Coming into the Giro d'Italia, Robbie McEwen said to himself that if he won a stage somewhere along the way, he'd be happy with his race. The Australian didn't have long to wait; at the end of day two, the first possible day for a bunch sprint, he thundered home half a length clear of World Champion Paolo Bettini and comfortably ahead of Alessandro Petacchi, scooping what is his twelfth career victory in the race.
The win came after what was a tough finale, with the peloton tackling several climbs towards the end. The final one of these saw a number of attacks being fired off and while nothing stuck, it did end the chances of many of the sprinters. However McEwen and Petacchi got over the top okay and, together with world champ Bettini, fought it out for victory in Bosa.
"I was pretty far back on the climb, there were maybe another 20 riders behind me going over the top," a very satisfied McEwen told the press. "But I was maybe 15, 20 positions behind Petacchi, so for me it was just important to come back to the Milram riders by the bottom of the descent. After that, the tactic was simple – I followed Petacchi and his team. They did a really good job to pull the sprint. Today I was stronger and I managed to pass Alessandro. I knew that Bettini was there on my wheel, looking for an opportunity, but there were no problems making it to the line."
When asked how tough the final climb was for the sprinters, McEwen said that it was just the last in a series of stingers. " I think the whole stage affected the sprinters legs, because it was a really tough stage. If you looked at the profile it looked like there was quite a lot of flat, but I knew from being here since Wednesday that there is no flat on this island. It was like riding Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and I think the hard course plus the pace set by Liquigas wore down most of the sprinters. When we got to the final climb, a lot of the sprinters just got dropped immediately. I think the only two sprinters left were myself and Petacchi.
"I expected it to be very hard and was telling myself all day, 'don't think it is going to be easy to get to the finish.' I had to work really hard. Although with [Dario] Cioni doing a lot of work in the final for me, he rode on the front all the way until the final climb, it meant that I could start the climb in the very first positions and have the chance to drop back through the peloton going up the climb and still be there at the top."
For the full winner's press conference report, click here.