By Shane Stokes in Einsiedeln
Robbie McEwen is riding the Tour of Switzerland as preparation for the Tour de France and another crack at stage wins and the Green Jersey competition. He took a hat-trick of stage victories in the Giro this year and is hoping that means a similar campaign is in store in July.
"Last year I also won three stages in the Giro, then went on to take three in the Tour," he said, speaking to Cyclingnews before the start of stage two of the Tour de Suisse. "This time, I took three in the Giro again so if it goes the same way I will be happy with that. Actually, if I just win one in the Tour, it is still good.
"My big goal is to win stages in the Tour; if you are winning stages in the Tour ,then you are in contention for Green as well. You have got to do one to do the other. You can’t say I am going for Green but not win stages!"
One of his main rivals in July will be World Champion Tom Boonen. The Quick.Step rider scored a psychological point when he won stage one of the Tour de Suisse on Saturday, but McEwen says that there is a reason why he finished in the second group.
"The goal here is to get ready for the Tour, to sharpen up the form a bit. It would be nice to win a stage as well. So far this Tour de Suisse is going like last year’s - I was nowhere on the first stage. I haven’t really raced since the Giro, barring a criterium and a kermesse race in Belgium. I haven’t really raced, especially uphill, so I am missing a bit of rhythm.
"However my biggest problem yesterday [stage one - ed.] was that I dropped my chain at the bottom of the climb, the last time up it. I was on a new bike and that can happen with them, sometimes. I was being careful changing down but it just fell off anyway. I think the places I lost getting my chain back on is pretty much the same number of places I needed to make up to be in the bunch at the top of the climb.
"It was a little bit frustrating but there are still other stages. I would rather that happens in the Tour de Suisse than in the Tour de France!"
Like Freire and Boonen, McEwen didn’t sprint yesterday once it was clear that the first place was gone. He’s got two days left to try to do something before the race hits the mountains on Wednesday.