Robbie McEwen has added a fifth victory to his season tally at the Tour de Wallonie Picarde (formerly known as Circuit Franco Belge), winning the fourth and last stage as well as the overall classification of the event on Sunday. The 39-year-old sprinter took the yellow jersey off Tom Veelers (Skil-Shimano) in the ultimate sprint in Tournai, thereby sealing his second overall victory of the race as he had previously won it in 2002.
Going into the stage, McEwen was not sure about the day's outcome. "This was not expected," he said after his victory. "This was a hard stage with seven climbs of the Col de la Croix de Jubaru. Despite the heat I felt good and actually felt better and better as the stage went on."
McEwen knew that he could take the overall victory by winning the stage if Veelers or Chris Sutton (Sky) were not in the top three. "That's what happened. To be honest, this was an easy sprint for me. I choose the right wheel, that of Sutton and could easily pass him. This proves I'm still there in cycling."
Team Director Dirk Demol was full of praise for the Australian veteran and the teamwork that made him finish off the job on the line. "Again I have big respect for Robbie McEwen. I admire his motivation. January through October, it doesn't matter for McEwen. There was nice work from the team, too. We didn't have to defend the leader's jersey but we were in all of the breaks. But it ended in a sprint and Robbie created the crowning moment. We are very satisfied."
Now, the man who has won 12 Grand Tour stages in his career hopes for a good result in the last but not the least sprinters' classic, Paris-Tours next Sunday October 9. "The season is not over yet. I hope I can show the same fast legs in Paris-Tours. That would be nice. I've never won that race," he added.
Paris-Tours will be the last race for McEwen in the RadioShack kit. He will join the Australian outfit GreenEdge in 2012 for six months as a rider, then become 'tactical advisor' within the team's staff sometime mid-year.