An interview with Robbie McEwen, July 5, 2006
"The secret of my win today might be the fact that yesterday we had a great evening in our hotel near Liège. Everybody's family and friends came over for the night. We were like a big family, because there were more than 60 people over there.
"I think it has boosted the morale of everybody in the team. The fact that our team bus is damaged again can't take that away," smiled McEwen after his tenth Tour de France stage win, intent on keeping the green jersey in the Davitamon-Lotto family. Brecht Decaluwé reports from Saint-Quentin.
Q: It was remarkable to see how convincingly you won. Did you feel so strong, or were the others showing weaknesses?
Robbie McEwen: I saw in the road book that this finish suited me perfectly to my characteristics as a sprinter, being slightly uphill and with a slight corner to the left with 200 metres to go. I had a tactic in my head already since last Wednesday for this sprint.
I told Steegmans what we would gonna do with about 100km to go. I told him just to keep listening to me, and just wait for me to give him the signal. He almost took off too early, but I got him back on the rails.
We waited until 450 meters to go and from then we came out of the wheels. We went flat out, and imagined that the finish line was at 200 meters to go. He did exactly to the letter what I said. It made it simple for me, but I didn't dare to look around. Now I saw on TV that there was nobody in the neighbourhood. I want to dedicate this victory to Freddy [Rodriguez], who had to abandon yesterday.
Q: How important was the role of Gert Steegmans in the sprint?
RM: It was extremely important. He's young and still has lots to learn, and this was also completely new for him. Steegmans job had been to try and bring Freddy to the front. He had a couple of rough days the last few stages. Today, he had to step in and fill Freddy's role. And he did it just perfectly, it couldn't have gone any better. Even if I had written a script, it couldn't have gone better, he was so strong.
Q: Today doctor Fuentes himself has declared that there were surely also sportsmen out of other sports than cycling who took doping, does that make you happy?
RM: Of course that doesn't make me happy, since they also took doping. But a lot of riders here have been saying that it's about time that they named athletes from other sports. They should've done that right from the start. I think it's a scandal that names of other sportspeople were not named at all. The investigation was focused on cycling, so the garbage was getting thrown over cycling again.
Q: You always wanted to bring the balance of victories in the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France into a break-even. Now you're at 11-10... are you still concerned with this?
RM: I hope to bring it level in this Tour de France, but I will be happy as well if it develops into a 11-14 balance (jokes). We're just going to keep trying to win stages and in that way I can keep gathering points for the green jersey.
So much can happen in one day; for example, yesterday, I didn't get any points while others did take some, but I've taken back the jersey today. Hushovd has come across today what happened to me last year, he got disqualified. It shows you how quickly a green jersey dream can fade away.
Q: I remember you being unhappy when you were at the Rabobank team, because you couldn't start in the races you wanted to compete. How important has it been for you to come to the Davitamon-Lotto team?
RM: In 2002 I found a team that suits me perfectly. I developed as a person and as a rider since that time. I just feel really good in the current environment. The team has changed every year a little bit since 2002, they brought new guys to the team and we've been improving the whole time. I feel great in this situation and that's why I signed to stay until the end of 2008.
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