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Gallery: Robbie McEwen - a career in photos

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He's arrived: Winning his first Tour de France stage in Paris, 1999

He's arrived: Winning his first Tour de France stage in Paris, 1999
(Image credit: AFP)
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Winning the Hamburg Classic in 2008

Winning the Hamburg Classic in 2008
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Robbie McEwen won a total of 12 stages in the Giro d'Italia

Robbie McEwen won a total of 12 stages in the Giro d'Italia
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Mobbed by his Lotto teammates after another sprint victory

Mobbed by his Lotto teammates after another sprint victory
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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With Lance Armstrong at the start of the Tour Down Under in 2011

With Lance Armstrong at the start of the Tour Down Under in 2011
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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2006 and Robbie McEwen is following Floyd Landis

2006 and Robbie McEwen is following Floyd Landis
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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McEwen can only watch on as Thor Hushovd pips him to a sprint win.

McEwen can only watch on as Thor Hushovd pips him to a sprint win.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Robbie McEwen prepares for one of his last races as a pro

Robbie McEwen prepares for one of his last races as a pro
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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At Katusha McEwen reminded everyone of his powerful sprint

At Katusha McEwen reminded everyone of his powerful sprint
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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In Katusha colours

In Katusha colours
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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There were some wins but McEwen was badly affected by crashes at Katusha

There were some wins but McEwen was badly affected by crashes at Katusha
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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McEwen takes a tumble at Paris-Roubaix

McEwen takes a tumble at Paris-Roubaix
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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McEwen with ex-Lotto teammate Axel Merckx

McEwen with ex-Lotto teammate Axel Merckx
(Image credit: AFP)
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The Australians on Tour: O'Grady, McEwen, Jonker, Vogels and Stephens in the late 1990s

The Australians on Tour: O'Grady, McEwen, Jonker, Vogels and Stephens in the late 1990s
(Image credit: AFP)
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The 2004 Tour de France jersey holders in Paris

The 2004 Tour de France jersey holders in Paris
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pulling on yellow at the Tour de France in 2004

Pulling on yellow at the Tour de France in 2004
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Following Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich at the 2003 Tour de France

Following Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich at the 2003 Tour de France
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Another race, another win, this time at the Tour de Suisse in 2008

Another race, another win, this time at the Tour de Suisse in 2008
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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A smiling Robbie McEwen during the 2008 season

A smiling Robbie McEwen during the 2008 season
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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McEwen in time trial mode in 2007

McEwen in time trial mode in 2007
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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A new team and a new start at Katusha in 2009

A new team and a new start at Katusha in 2009
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Finishing a cold and wet edition of Gent-Wevelgem in 2009

Finishing a cold and wet edition of Gent-Wevelgem in 2009
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Milan-San Remo 2003: Robbie McEwen is shadowed by Mario Cipollini

Milan-San Remo 2003: Robbie McEwen is shadowed by Mario Cipollini
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Taking time out for the fans in Messina at the Giro in 2003

Taking time out for the fans in Messina at the Giro in 2003
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Winning his first Tour de France stage in 1999 when at Rabobank

Winning his first Tour de France stage in 1999 when at Rabobank
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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First at Rabobank, then at Lotto, McEwen wins in Paris at the Tour again in 2002

First at Rabobank, then at Lotto, McEwen wins in Paris at the Tour again in 2002
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Not always the winner: this time yielding to Baden Cooke at the 2003 Tour

Not always the winner: this time yielding to Baden Cooke at the 2003 Tour
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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He's wheelie good: Alpe d'Heuz 2003

He's wheelie good: Alpe d'Heuz 2003
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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2008 and there's a new kid in town to challenge McEwen

2008 and there's a new kid in town to challenge McEwen
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Still got it. Robbie McEwen (RadioShack) sprints to win stage one of the Tour de Wallonie Picarde.

Still got it. Robbie McEwen (RadioShack) sprints to win stage one of the Tour de Wallonie Picarde.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Robbie McEwen (GreenEdge)

Robbie McEwen (GreenEdge)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)

“You just keep putting in the work every season,” Robbie McEwen told Cyclingnews earlier this year.

Having just won the OCBC Cycling Criterium in Singapore at the age of 39 the sentiment was wholly true to McEwen’s nature and attitude.

Singapore was not the most glamorous of wins, certainly not when compared to the 24 Grand Tour stage wins he’d amassed during his long career, but a win nevertheless. And having retired from the sport at the conclusion of the Amgen Tour of California, Singapore was his final win as a professional rider. Over a career spanning three decades he'd won a race in each year of his career.

In a sense, his performance in the far east summarised McEwen’s character. Tenacious, hard working, gritty and ultimately lightening quick. Those blots may have occurred less frequently in recent year but there’s no arguing with the Australian’s glorious career.

Twelve wins in the Tour, along with three maillot verts, a spell in jaune, 12 Giro stages, five wins in Paris-Brussels, a Scheldeprijs, Vattenfall Cyclassics, and Dwars Vlaanderen thrown in for good measure - few sprinters could match his consistency, let alone his speed.

In a career that was book ended by the two greatest sprinters ever seen in Mario Cipollini and Mark Cavendish, McEwen stands out as the challenger who faced up, ready for a sprint but without so much as a lead-out train. He was a sprinter in the old fashioned mould.

His most impressive win came in the Tour de France in 2007, when, after crashing with 22 kilometres on the stage to Canterbury, he regained contact with the peloton only after his Lotto team time trialled him back to the bunch, allowing the Australian to showcase his sprinter power. He won by over a bike length.

Three year’s later at the Tour de France, Johan Vansummeren, one of McEwen’s teammates that day, picked out the stage to Canterbury as one of his proudest moments of a professional, a rubber stamp to McEwen’s popularity among his peers. Vansummeren had been dropped just before McEwen had made contact with the bunch but punched the air in joy when he heard McEwen's win announced through race radio.

"It's been often been fun, it's often been painful but I've enjoyed every minute of it," McEwen said as he prepared for his first day as a retired professional.

Like his rivals, Cipollini and Erik Zabel, McEwen will start the next phase of his life as a sprint coach, working with the young bucks at Orica-GreenEdge. Come July, when the Australian team are going toe-to-toe with the likes of Sky and Rabobank, who knows, there might be a little bit of McEwen in their sprinter style and tactics.

We hope so.