McEwen may be out of Down Under

Robbie McEwen with the fans before stage one of the Tour Down Under

Robbie McEwen with the fans before stage one of the Tour Down Under (Image credit: Mark Gunter)

By Greg Johnson in Adelaide, Australia

Robbie McEwen of Team Katusha will decide overnight if he will continue the Tour Down Under tomorrow. The Australian sprinter was struck by a spectator's camera in the sprint finish on today's stage one and suffered a bruised right forearm.

"I was not all that close to the barriers. I started my sprint and had just changed into the biggest gear to really make my final sprint for the line when some genius in the crowd decided they wanted to get an action photo and reached right out over the barriers with a really big camera," said McEwen.

"I saw it and I just couldn't do anything, it was impossible to avoid and it hit me straight on the forearm. It's broken the skin and I have a wound in the shape of the camera lens. [I am] really surprised it didn't take myself and all the others down, because I was in the lead and lucky I didn't crash because that would have been a disaster."

Stage winner André Greipel of Team Columbia was lucky to avoid the incident. The German was following McEwen's wheel on the run in to Mawson Lakes, but pulled out from behind him as the incident took place.

"I'd really like to see some sort of double barrier system in races, all races, in the last 200 metres or get the barriers much further back from the road edge," McEwen said.

He called for spectators to be more mindful of the riders' vulnerability. McEwen pointed out this isn't the first time he's had obstructions in a finish.

"I've been hit by one of those green PMU hands in the Tour [de France] before. The year before last, I actually got hit in the head in the finish of Paris-Tours when I was on the wheel of [Alessandro] Petacchi and someone waved an arm and hit me in the head. We are really, really vulnerable."

Race doctor Peter Barnes visited McEwen and cleared him of any broken bones. He is unsure if he'll still be able to ride, due to the muscular damage sustained from the incident.

"My arm is incredibly swollen and really, really sore and I'm not even sure I can hold the handlebars," he said. "We're trying to reduce the swelling and get the fluid out. [It's a] possible muscle tear and probably a burst blood vessel.

"When you get hit by something at 70km/h it's like a golf swing at 60 percent power hitting you in the arm like a baseball bat."

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