Five times a winner of Paris-Brussels, Robbie McEwen (RadioShack) lines up for his final tilt at the Franco-Belgian classic on Saturday. Although he will ride for the new GreenEdge set-up for the 2012 season, the 39-year-old is set to hang up his wheels halfway through the campaign and join the team’s staff as a tactical advisor.
While McEwen acknowledges that André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) is rightly touted as favourite to win Paris-Brussels, he believes that he can have a major impact in the race, where he last triumphed in 2008. On that occasion, he took his fourth consecutive win in the event. His first Paris-Brussels success came in 2002.
“Agreed, André Greipel is the big favourite, and I also have a few other guys like Galimzyanov, Kruopis and Van Hummel to contend with, but if I have a good day, I can still compete with the best,” McEwen told Het Nieuwsblad.
McEwen has won just one road race this season, a stage of the Tour de la Région Wallonne, and he said that it was a welcome boost to his morale midway through a difficult season.
“That win gave me renewed confidence in late July,” he said. “I can still do it. Besides, Paris-Brussels suits me as the finale has a slightly uphill finish.”
McEwen’s year had begun on an ill-starred note, after the Pegasus team collapsed on the eve of the new season. While he was quickly snapped up by RadioShack on a one-year contract, McEwen had little opportunity to showcase his talents in the Grand Tours.
“I’ve had my share of bad luck since the start of the season,” McEwen said. “Then, the Giro was so tough that there were almost no chances for the sprinters, and I wasn’t selected for the Tour.”
Nonetheless, the evergreen McEwen is never short on motivation, even after 16 seasons in the professional ranks. “You never know when your career will come to an end. I approach every race like it’s my first.”