Worlds 'a lottery' for McEwen

Australia's big hope for Sunday's world championship road race, Robbie McEwen, has told Belgian newspaper HNB that the final corner of the course won't be easy to negotiate, saying, "I hope the UCI will change their mind by Sunday and change the finish."

McEwen, who many tip to actually benefit from the final turn said, "That last turn is definitely not on. They could draw the finish line six hundred metres further along, or draw the line before that turn. Everyone is talking about the McEwen-turn, but it'll be a lottery for myself as well." He also speculated on tactics, saying, "Whoever waits the longest to use the brakes and can fly through the inside of the U-turn has got most chances for the win."

McEwen is known for his confident nature, and in the lead up to Sunday's race in Madrid he's no different. "I'm the only one to beat Petacchi fair and square three times during the Giro," said McEwen, before illustrating the characteristics of Petacchi's final sprint. "As always you have to get hold of him first and then go around him. Petacchi has the habit of starting the sprint on the side and then deviating to the middle of the road."

McEwen likes the nickname 'David Copperfield of the sprint' which Petacchi admiringly gave him. "I thought that was funny. Every time they think that Robbie isn't there, I'll pop up. And they don't know where I'm coming from." McEwen explained his tactics further by adding, "I adjust my tactics to the situation of the moment. I'm always grabbing the best wheel of the people sitting in front of me."

In relation to his World's campaign, the two-time Tour de France green jersey winner was upbeat, saying, "I had a spotless preparation. I didn't have to ride a Vuelta for that. In Zolder I finished second after Cipollini without riding the Spanish tour. I've headed for Barcelona with my family for eight days, where we stayed with my sister-in-law."

McEwen believes he's ready for whatever challenge can be thrown at him in Madrid, but it won't be easy. "I feel I'm getting better every day, but the question is how they will race on Sunday. I expect Spain to start the fire with Valverde, Flecha, Astarloa and Pereiro. It will be an elimination race, a survival of the fittest. The parcours is less hard than Athens, but 50 kilometres longer. At the Olympics Bettini screwed things up for sprinters like myself. The task is to organise the race well and drink lots in that heat. I'll glide along in the body of the peloton. I hope that I'll still have enough juice left in the tank for the sprint."

Rumours the Australian might be leaving his Belgian Davitamon-Lotto team were quashed when he said, "I'm still under contract for one more year, but I want to break that open and sign till 2008. We'll get it sorted. After Paris-Tours we'll talk further."

And the final word on his future with the team was, "You can write it down: Robbie stays with this team."

Courtesy of Sabine Sunderland

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