"I don’t know if it’s going to be the last one, I might race again next year," McEwen told Cyclingnews at the Giro d’Italia, ahead of Monday’s tragic stage to Rapallo. "Actually, I think I will race again next year."
McEwen is currently on a one-year contract with the RadioShack team, which he joined following the collapse of the nascent Pegasus project in December of last year. With RadioShack’s backing due to expire at the end of the year, the team is understood to be in talks with a potential replacement sponsor. Regardless of the team’s future, however, McEwen is keeping his options open for next season.
"I don’t know, I haven’t got that far yet," he said. "I’ve just made the decision that I want to race again next year. It’s only May so it’s a bit early to speculate on where that will be yet."
One hugely enticing potential destination for the evergreen McEwen would be the new GreenEdge squad, set to debut in the peloton in 2012. Shayne Bannan’s squad has been linked with a number of high-profile Australian riders, and the addition of a rider of his considerable experience would be a considerable asset to the squad.
"Of course it would be interesting because it’s an Australian team and being an Australian and having been in the peloton for 16 years, it’s always been a dream to have an Australian team in the bunch," McEwen said. "It’s definitely interesting, but it’s at the moment probably not the only option."
While a decision on his 2012 team will have to wait until the end of the summer, there is already one Australian super squad that McEwen wants to be a part of this year. With the world championships course in Copenhagen widely expected to produce a mass sprirnt finish, McEwen is one of a number of Antipodean sprinters willing to throw his hat into the ring.
With fast men of the calibre of Matt Goss, Mark Renshaw, Allan Davis and Heinrich Haussler at their disposition, the Australians have a wealth of straight line speed for Denmark and the leadership will be hotly contested. However, McEwen maintains that having more than one option could benefit rather than hinder the Australian challenge.
"I think on a course like that and having seen previous Worlds, it’s probably good to go into a race like that with maybe three protected riders," said the 2002 world championship silver medallist. "You’d maybe have one guy who you’d call your absolute team leader that day, but you’d probably have three guys protected and the rest to pull the sprint or work towards the sprint.
"I’d love to ride, I’d love to be part of the Australian team at the Worlds again. It’s a course that suits me. I missed out last year [in Geelong – ed.], but I’d love to be there this time in Copenhagen, so hopefully I’ll get selected and have the form to warrant that."
In the meantime, McEwen is competing in the Giro d’Italia, where he is hoping to use the Italian race to build his form back up again after a hectic beginning to life at RadioShack.
"I’ve got to say I came here under-prepared as I only did two weeks of training beforehand," he admitted. "I’d basically been going since November, raced since January and all the way through until after Roubaix to Denain, so I’m hoping to ride my way into this race."
With so few sprint finishes up for grabs at the Giro, McEwen explained that it was simply a question of attempting to make it over the final climb every day as best he could.
"Every day it will be a question of whether I can get over the hill or not, and if not one of the other guys will have a go," he said. "A lot depends on the circumstances of each stage and how aggressive the punchy riders are in the finale."
One man who has caught McEwen’s eye is the wily Alessandro Petacchi, and he believes that the Italian’s strength as much as his speed could be telling in this Giro.
"Petacchi is climbing really very well and is obviously 100 percent in form, like we saw in Turkey when he won the hardest stage there," he warned.
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Barry Ryan is Head of Features at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation, published by Gill Books.