Australian sprinter anticipates battle with Petacchi and Greipel
Robbie McEwen returns to the Scheldeprijs with mixed emotions; having won the race in 2002 a fall in last year's edition begun a chain of events that ruled him out for most of the season.
The 37-year-old Australian is hopeful of a good showing this year however, saying that the fall in last season's edition won't be playing on his mind too much in today's event.
"Last year I fell here in the sprint, but I'll forget that. I will concentrate on the sprint itself. It was also not the first time that I had fallen." he told Belgian sports site Sporza.
After recovering from that fall, a crash in the Tour of Belgium and subsequent complications effectively put an end to McEwen's season after he had started strongly at last January's Tour Down Under, where he also suffered misfortune on the opening stage.
While he has started 2010 quietly, only fools write the Australian off in a sprint finish, regardless of his age or perceptions of his form. He explained that he's building for another tilt at the Giro d'Italia, where he'll undoubtedly be in the mix on the flat stages, barring illness or injury.
Today's race is also a useful litmus test against his likely competition at the Giro, Alessandro Petacchi and André Greipel. "It's not really my period because I'm waiting for the Giro and the Tour," he said. "But it's a very strong field in the Scheldeprijs and I'd like to beat men such as Petacchi and Greipel.
"I'm not sure I'm fully recovered from the Tour of Flanders, where I worked for Stijn Vandenbergh, and it was nice he finished 12th. My form is quite good... I'm getting better."
And despite occasional suggestions that McEwen could be thinking about retirement, the man who has won three Tour de France green jerseys indicated that he remains motivated to race.
"I'm still motivated. The worst is not my age, but that comeback after serious injury. I feel that I can still handle them all on the bike - earlier this season I was going against Freire in Mallorca," he said, before adding, "Greipel is my favourite on Wednesday; [he's] a strong rider with a good team."
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