By Susan Westemeyer
Robbie McEwen is not making many friends in Switzerland. According to the Swiss newspaper Blick, the Tour de Suisse stage three winner's ceremony had to wait for him on Monday. Immediately after the stage, the Silence-Lotto rider started giving interviews on his mobile phone. Former rider Kurt Betschart, who manages the ceremony, waited a while, but finally, he said, "I challenged him to get a move on."
The Australian sprinter then called Betschart a "f**king idiot" and called the race a "f**king organisation," Blick reported. It added that last year, after his Tour de Suisse stage five win in Giubiasco, McEwen also applied that same title to the country, calling it "f**king Switzerland."
The race organisers at first wanted to exclude McEwen from the race for his remarks, but gave him another chance. Race spokesman Kurt Henauer confirmed McEwen's comments, telling Cyclingnews that the organisers "would not impose sanctions – provisionally – because a fine of 200 Franc is a joke..."
Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara of Team CSC told Blick that "McEwen is a very unpopular rider. I can't understand why the Tour de Suisse organisers didn't take any action." Expanding his comments, Cancellara told Cyclingnews, "It's all a question of respect for the race, for his colleagues, his sponsors and the organisation. If people don't know how to behave themselves, they're better off being sent home."
Team Silence-Lotto did not respond to Cyclingnews' request for a comment on the situation.