Some might start minimising the abilities of Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen as the 35 year-old is still without a victory in 2008, after four months of competition. In doing so one wouldn't be considering the lack of bunch sprints in the run-up races towards the Spring Classics season so far, nor the fact that his real goals are still to come. Still it is odd and, on the eve of the Spring Classics, Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé talked with McEwen in Gent about his season so far and his goals for the 2008.
"It was a difficult start of the season as I was ill, and afterwards I crashed in the Algarve [Portugal]. It was only from the Tirreno-Adriatico on that things started rolling again," commented McEwen early in April.
The Milano-Sanremo, which is the traditional opening Classic of the season, proved to be too hard for the Australian. In previous editions he had tried desperately to claim the flowers on the Via Roma, trying different tactics like avoiding the bunch sprint in the descent. "During Milano-Sanremo I fell short. I had a bad moment at a bad time; I got dropped on the new climb, Le Mànie, and had to chase for 25 kilometres; on the Poggio I couldn't follow.
"The past few years I always won my stage [first win - ed.] in the Tour Down Under. Back in 1999 I had to wait until June before my first victory, but then I won a stage in the Tour de France, which made up for that. It doesn't make me annoyed or nervous. It would be different if I would be riding well without capturing a win, but now I know why I haven't won just yet. I do what I have to do. I've caught a cold, but that shouldn't keep me away from a good performance in the upcoming races," McEwen noted.
When asked where he picked up the cold the Australian smiled. "My children caught a cold, and thus daddy couldn't stay behind," McEwen laughed.
He continued to explain the reasons behind the lack of successes. "It's not the easiest time of the season, and you don't see a lot of bunch sprints. I could've opted to be in form a little earlier, because it's easier to keep on the top form than to reach it. That crash in Portugal was far from ideal, but I wouldn't have been with the first 12 over the top of the Poggio anyway; Milano-Sanremo was too tough for me."
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