Robbie McEwen was out and about on Monday, checking out the course of the Ronde van Vlaanderen. It is common for the professionals to ride as much of the course as they can before the big Flanders weekend. But when Cyclingnews spotted the Australian, he was going the other way on the course.
Of course, McEwen won't be riding the Ronde on Sunday, preferring to "do some training that day, watch the race go by and then catch the end on TV." McEwen lives virtually on the course and knows all those roads "like the back of his hand." About the Koppenberg back in the race he joked at a recent press conference that "I'll watch it on TV, so it's all good."
When McEwen was out on Monday, he was on his last ride before the start of the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde and gave a chance for all those amateur riders to see their heroes up close. Other fans opted to wait on the famous climbs of the Koppenberg or the Muur de Grammont with their cameras in hand, hoping to get a good shot of the professionals who are out training this week. Chances are that a potential photograph may be more in focus, as some of the riders are only doing slower recovery rides, resting from all the race efforts in the lead up to the big one. There is also more of a chance to see the riders, as the climbs aren't packed with spectators four, five or more deep, as will be the case on Sunday.
McEwen still enjoys the sport very much and can't quite understand people asking him about the end of his career. "I still have a contract for two years," he emphasised and didn't show any sign of wanting to quit now. The question may be on some people's mind as McEwen admitted to not having the best beginning of the year, usually starting his winning affairs in January in Australia. He couldn't even exactly remember the last time he didn't win a stage in the Tour down Under. But while acknowledging that "it hasn't been easy this year," he made a point of saying that "really, my months have always been June, July and August." You can never count out someone like McEwen, so don't be surprised if you see his name on top of the leader board again soon.
Look for a feature on more of the Silence-Lotto riders soon.