Having taken a silver medal in Zolder seven years ago, Robbie McEwen is using next year’s world championships as major motivation heading into the new season. The experienced Australian was badly injured in a crash in the Tour of Belgium in May, but has been training hard and has clear targets in mind.
“I would like to start off well at the Tour Down Under, and then try to keep going through to Milan San Remo and Gent Wevelgem. Then the Giro, the Tour and the World Championships,” he told Cyclingnews.
“The really big goal at the end of the rainbow is that - the rainbow jersey. A world title in Australia would be amazing…hopefully my leg will come back to where it needs to be to lead the Aussie team at the worlds in Geelong. What a way to come back… it would be great to win a world title in Australia.”
McEwen is one of the best sprinters in cycling and while few world championships are conducive to pure gallopers, he’s been up there twice at the finish of two editions. “I was second behind Cipo [Mario Cipollini] in Zolder and then in Salzburg I was actually fifth, just a few metres behind the four guys who escaped in the last kilometre. I have been close twice, so maybe I will get another crack at it.”
As he told Cyclingnews last month, McEwen’s happy with his recovery thus far. He’s been doing some gym work as well as some specific exercises to strengthen his troublesome tendon. The 37-year-old also has a special training aid which makes sure that he corrects any imbalance that is there.
“I’ve been using an ergo that shows me my power output, left and right. It shows you the total amount of work and at any one time, how much the left is doing, how much the right is doing,” he explained. “The object of it is to keep it 50-50 throughout the whole thing.
“That helps you concentrate and makes sure the injured leg is doing what it should be doing. It is working out well,” he explained.
Normally McEwen would be doing three-hour spins at this time of year, but as he’s coming back after many disrupted months he’s been knuckling down earlier than usual. He’s clocked up some five hour rides and reports that there’s no problems with his knee. He now plans to step up the intensity once he gets the go-ahead from his Katusha team.
“It might take me a while to get race form as I haven’t been able to do any as yet,” he added. “That said, I am hoping that I get the clearance pretty soon to start doing some circuit races here in Australia in December. That’s a great way to improve your race fitness before the season even starts. Once we sort out insurance and all that sort of thing, I’ll do some of those.”
In addition to the world title, McEwen’s likely to be motivated by the thoughts of beating Mark Cavendish. Despite getting older his achievements speak volumes and the triple Tour de France maillot vert will do everything he can to prove he’s still one of the fastest sprinters in cycling.