Robbie McEwen found himself in the middle of the Tour de France on Saturday, without actually being part of the race. Currently in Monaco for physiotherapy, the Australian sprinter spent some time in the start/finish area of the Tour's opening stage, enjoying the meet & greet without having to focus on the bike race.
"I've been here since Tuesday, for eight days, visiting my physio who's based here during the season," McEwen told Cyclingnews. "I'll go back to Belgium on Wednesday, and he'll come up to visit me. We planned this a couple of weeks ago - it just happened to coincide with the Tour!"
The Katusha rider is currently recovering from breaking his leg in an accident during stage two of the Tour of Belgium, which was his return to racing after being forced to miss the Giro d'Italia through injuries sustained in a crash during the Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen. He is looking forward to a luckier second half of the season, and said his recovery was going to plan.
"It's going good. I'm getting better every day, starting to ride without pain. I'm already up to about 80-100 kilometres per training ride now, even starting to ride a little bit uphill. So every day, there are little improvements. I should be able to come back to ProTour competition by the middle of August, at the Eneco Tour. Before that, I'll do a criterium in Belgium on the Tuesday after the Tour, in Diksmuide."
McEwen admitted that it felt "kinda strange" to be an observer rather than an actor of the Tour, but then again, "I had a long time to get used to the idea that I'm not riding. It does make the town pretty busy, though!"
Hopeful that 2010 will be a more fortunate year for him, the Australian was eager to heal his injury completely in order to prepare to ride Grand Tours again. "That's my thing - win stages in the Giro and the Tour," he said. "This year is pretty much a wiped-out year for me, as I couldn't do the Giro, and then was out of the Tour, too. That's a huge hole in my season. But right now, it's just really important that I get back to a good level, and get my leg back to a 100 percent, so that I can do it again next year."