Davitamon-Lotto's biggest star, Robbie McEwen, is ready for the opening race Omloop Het Volk in Belgium, although his wife Angélique should be giving birth to their second child any day. "I think I've got a fair chance of winning the Omloop Het Volk," he told Belgian Sporza radio. "I think it's logical that Peter [Van Petegem] is also team leader for this weekend; but this really is a race for me, I think. In previous years it was hard for me to start this race in good health, but if you can finish in the front group or top four like I have done, then you can win. It's a goal for me, but not the most important of the season."
McEwen is naturally distracted by the arrival of the baby. "My preparation wasn't ideal as my wife will give birth soon," he continued. "It was to be last Monday but it didn't happen - still hasn't - and clearly, if my wife is going to give birth on Saturday, I won't be riding."
The Australian sprinter hasn't been racing since the GP Costa Azul, but spent some time in training. "I've trained in my garage on the home-trainer; not the ideal circumstances," McEwen explained. "I've tried my best to train but naturally I wanted to be home for my wife. I've trained five hours on the parcours today, with Van Petegem and a few guys of the Quick.Step team. I don't feel too bad. The last race was in Portugal where I won, but by Saturday it will have been two weeks without a race - that's a long time without competition. I'll do my best. I knew it was going to be hard to prepare properly for this race but I've got a good feeling."
This year, McEwen made the right decisions to be an early starter into the season and staying in good health. "I've taken it easier in December this time," the 33 year-old said. "I've changed my program this year. I haven't raced Qatar after the Tour Down Under to avoid getting sick like I did previous years because of the racing and travelling. I am still fresh and that's good. It's not ideal for the Omloop but it is for the races in March."
Naming his teammate Van Petegem, Tom Boonen and Andreas Klier as the "main guys to expect on Saturday", McEwen is hoping for sunny skies for the weekend. "They predict good weather (sic) so it will be a big group going to the finish - maybe 40 to 50 men of which I'll be part hopefully. I prefer it to stay dry, it can be cold as long as it's dry: I can do it in the rain but prefer not to."
Courtesy of Sabine Sunderland