By Gregor Brown in San Benedetto del Tronto
Rockin' Robbie McEwen's form is coming on for this Saturday's Milano-Sanremo. The 35 year-old Australian sprinter of Silence-Lotto was rather anonymous this last week in the Tirreno-Adriatico, but the race has served him well for getting fit.
"My form is getting better, which is normal after seven days of racing," he noted before the start of the final day of racing, a 176-kilometre stage in San Benedetto del Tronto. "Tonight we go to Salsomaggiore Terme, to just relax and rest. I will recover and be fresh for Sanremo."
McEwen admits that he had better legs in last year's Tirreno and leading up to the Milano-Sanremo, where he finished fourth. "This year, I came to Tirreno not going too well, but this last week I started to feel better. I am riding up hills better and starting to feel good. But now I am getting tired after the consecutive days of racing, so it will be good to have those three days of recovery leading to Sanremo."
The number of attacking riders that are on form does not worry McEwen; in fact he reckons it helps the sprinters' chances. "Every year there are two groups, the sprinters that want to hold it together and guys that want to attack. Sometimes, for the sprinters it is better to have the group of attackers because they all neutralise each other. It creates one long line, and if they look at each other it creates hesitation."
The number one favourite in McEwen's book is the three-time World Champion of Team Rabobank, Oscar Freire. "The big favourite is Freire. It is obvious." The Spaniard won two stages of this year's Tirreno.