Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen has greatly improved his performances in Milan-San Remo for the 100th anniversary of the race this week-end: The Predictor-Lotto rider threw his bike over the finish line just centimetres behind Allan Davis (Discovery Channel) and Tom Boonen (Quick-Step), ending up with a very honourable 4th place. Last year and in 2004, McEwen could not follow the aggressive riding on the Cipressa climb, and in 2005, he did not start the race because of a flu. His best placing was in 2003, when he finished 30th inside the bunch, 11 seconds of the winner Paolo Bettini.
"I could have finished on the podium," McEwen told Sportwereld after the race. "I chose the right hand side of the road, and got blocked there. When I finally got some space, the sprint was already over."
But the Australian fast man has now showed that he has improved his climbing, finishing fifth on the hilly course of the Salzburg World's, and now fourth in the Classicissima. "I can win here one day - that is the lesson that I have learned at this Primavera, which didn't unfold perfectly for me. Quite the contrary. I crashed and got a brake in the backside: not only was it painful, but it also took a lot of power to chase back to the bunch after that."
Just before the final sprint, too, McEwen encountered some difficulties. "The preparation [for the sprint] wasn't perfect, either," he continued. "When someone form the Milram train [Marco Velo - ed.] came off the lead, he swerved and I almost crashed. I had to jump fast to get to Boonen's wheel."
Finally, a photo finish between Davis, Boonen and McEwen showed that the Australian missed the 2007 Milan-San Remo podium by a hair. Still, the Australian sprinter can be proud of his performance.