While Mark Cavendish sped to his third win in the Scheldeprijs on Wednesday afternoon, Australian veteran sprinter Robbie McEwen (RadioShack) was disappointed with his fifth place behind the Manxman.
It's a rarity when the Scheldeprijs doesn't finish in a bunch sprint and thus it's no surprise that McEwen has stood on the podium no fewer than five times in the past. In this edition the Australian came close again but a spectacular crash from Wouter Weylandt (Leopard-Trek) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervélo) ruined McEwen's sprint on the Churchill-lane in Schoten near Antwerp, Belgium.
"The sprint was completely uncontrolled. Then HTC got to the front with Cavendish. There were guys going everywhere. I saw there was a gap because there was a fight to get the wheel. Galimzyanov had to close the gap to get it but he had it, and then sort of lost it. Everyone else was sort of scrambling.
"It's a dead flat race. Everyone brings their sprinters and today it was a very easy race. Nobody's tired by the time the final starts. Even the guys who can't sprint think: I feel good, I'll have a go," McEwen said.
McEwen was spotted in an ideal position before he had to make room for Cavendish lead-out man Leigh Howard (HTC-Highroad), who was going backwards. "Just as I came in to get the wheel from Cavendish I was off balance. I locked up with Farrar a little bit and lost several places. There were still more than 200m to go," McEwen said.
When the actual sprint started Cavendish powered away on the left but right behind him Farrar collided with Weylandt, putting all the riders behind them into trouble. McEwen sat in about eighth place on the right hand side of the pack when the crash happened.
"I was coming back into the wheels to make a run when they started to fall. Cavendish was already gone. I went all the way up to the other barrier and stopped pedalling and basically did a right hand turn to avoid it. I had to swerve out twice. Two guys crashed at different moments. It was really strange.
"I don't quite know what happened. I was concentrating on getting out of the way than on seeing what was happening." McEwen described the crash that ruined his sprint. "That was the end of my podium place. I swung back in but it was all over. At least I stayed upright. A top five, it's not bad but I was really aiming for a podium finish," McEwen said. "My next race is [Paris-]Roubaix so now I can put the fat tyres on."