Skip to main content

McEwen takes the Milram train

Image 1 of 74

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto)

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto)
(Image credit: Sirotti)
Image 2 of 74

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto)

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto)
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
Image 3 of 74

Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step)

Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step)
(Image credit: Sirotti)
Image 4 of 74

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner)

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner)
(Image credit: Sirotti)
Image 5 of 74

Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
Image 6 of 74

Grischa Niermann (Rabobank)

Grischa Niermann (Rabobank)
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
Image 7 of 74

Sven Krauss (Gerolsteiner)

Sven Krauss (Gerolsteiner)
(Image credit: Elmar Krings)
Image 8 of 74

Cheering on the Giro

Cheering on the Giro
(Image credit: Sirotti)
Image 9 of 74

Post-stage grin

Post-stage grin
(Image credit: Sirotti)
Image 10 of 74

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) rides in the maglia rosa

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) rides in the maglia rosa
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 11 of 74

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner)

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner)
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 12 of 74

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) with Gibo Simoni on his wheel

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) with Gibo Simoni on his wheel
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 13 of 74

The peloton on the race track at Spa-Francorchamps

The peloton on the race track at Spa-Francorchamps
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 14 of 74

A long peloton on the race track at Spa-Francorchamps

A long peloton on the race track at Spa-Francorchamps
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 15 of 74

Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval) enjoying the race track

Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval) enjoying the race track
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 16 of 74

The peloton rides during stage 4

The peloton rides during stage 4
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 17 of 74

The peloton in the countryside

The peloton in the countryside
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 18 of 74

Matthias Russ working hard

Matthias Russ working hard
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 19 of 74

The Gerolsteiner train worked to protect the maglia rosa

The Gerolsteiner train worked to protect the maglia rosa
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 20 of 74

Rebellin and Schumacher

Rebellin and Schumacher
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 21 of 74

Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) is also well placed on GC

Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) is also well placed on GC
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 22 of 74

Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step) marked by Jose Rujano (Selle Italia)

Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step) marked by Jose Rujano (Selle Italia)
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 23 of 74

Gerolsteiner keeping Schumacher protected

Gerolsteiner keeping Schumacher protected
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 24 of 74

Sven Krauss (Gerolsteiner) leads the bunch on a descent

Sven Krauss (Gerolsteiner) leads the bunch on a descent
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 25 of 74

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) next to Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step)

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) next to Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step)
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 26 of 74

Axel Merckx (Phonak) on a descent

Axel Merckx (Phonak) on a descent
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 27 of 74

Cheering on the Giro

Cheering on the Giro
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 28 of 74

Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) in the peloton

Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) in the peloton
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 29 of 74

Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) rides next to Damiano Cunego

Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) rides next to Damiano Cunego
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 30 of 74

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) looking good

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) looking good
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 31 of 74

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) tailed by Lombardi and Basso

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) tailed by Lombardi and Basso
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 32 of 74

Gerolsteiner and CSC on the front

Gerolsteiner and CSC on the front
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 33 of 74

Ivan Basso (CSC) in the action

Ivan Basso (CSC) in the action
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 34 of 74

Di Luca and Basso ride close to each other

Di Luca and Basso ride close to each other
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 35 of 74

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) wins stage 4

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) wins stage 4
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 36 of 74

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) wins the stage from Paolo Bettini

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) wins the stage from Paolo Bettini
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 37 of 74

Davitamon-Lotto scores its second win with McEwen

Davitamon-Lotto scores its second win with McEwen
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 38 of 74

Yeah

Yeah
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 39 of 74

Post-stage grin from Robbie

Post-stage grin from Robbie
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 40 of 74

Robbie McEwen on the podium

Robbie McEwen on the podium
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 41 of 74

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) is a happy man

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) is a happy man
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 42 of 74

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) salutes from the podium

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) salutes from the podium
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 43 of 74

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) does it for the second time

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) does it for the second time
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 44 of 74

Another maglia rosa for Schumi

Another maglia rosa for Schumi
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 45 of 74

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) gets a kiss on the podium

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) gets a kiss on the podium
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Image 46 of 74

Lance Armstrong visited the Giro today

Lance Armstrong visited the Giro today
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
Image 47 of 74

Lance Armstrong poses with Paolo Savoldelli

Lance Armstrong poses with Paolo Savoldelli
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
Image 48 of 74

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) enjoys pink

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) enjoys pink
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
Image 49 of 74

Gerolsteiner chasing on the race track at Spa-Francorchamps

Gerolsteiner chasing on the race track at Spa-Francorchamps
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
Image 50 of 74

The Giro on the Francorchamps race track

The Giro on the Francorchamps race track
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
Image 51 of 74

The Giro on the Francorchamps race track

The Giro on the Francorchamps race track
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
Image 52 of 74

Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) in the peloton

Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) in the peloton
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
Image 53 of 74

Grischa Niermann (Rabobank) on the front of the break

Grischa Niermann (Rabobank) on the front of the break
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
Image 54 of 74

Gerolsteiner chasing

Gerolsteiner chasing
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
Image 55 of 74

Jussi Veikkanen (FDJ) near the front

Jussi Veikkanen (FDJ) near the front
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
Image 56 of 74

Manuel Beltran (Discovery Channel) leads on a descent

Manuel Beltran (Discovery Channel) leads on a descent
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
Image 57 of 74

Matt White (Discovery Channel)

Matt White (Discovery Channel)
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
Image 58 of 74

The peloton ascends another climb

The peloton ascends another climb
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
Image 59 of 74

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) wins the stage from Paolo Bettini

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) wins the stage from Paolo Bettini
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
Image 60 of 74

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) with the spray

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) with the spray
(Image credit: Luc Claessen)
Image 61 of 74

Music was afoot in Wanze this morning, creating a fun vibe for the start of the fourth stage of the Giro d'Italia in Belgium.

Music was afoot in Wanze this morning, creating a fun vibe for the start of the fourth stage of the Giro d'Italia in Belgium.
(Image credit: Anthony Tan/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 62 of 74

Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) has a reasonably free role to play in this Giro, the Stage 11 time trial in Pontedera one of his big targets.

Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) has a reasonably free role to play in this Giro, the Stage 11 time trial in Pontedera one of his big targets.
(Image credit: Anthony Tan/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 63 of 74

Graeme Brown (Rabobank) escorting his wife Hayley to the start in Wanze. Can't you afford a car, Brownie?

Graeme Brown (Rabobank) escorting his wife Hayley to the start in Wanze. Can't you afford a car, Brownie?
(Image credit: Anthony Tan/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 64 of 74

Saunier Duval-Prodir's American Aaron Olson loosening his limbs before the start.

Saunier Duval-Prodir's American Aaron Olson loosening his limbs before the start.
(Image credit: Anthony Tan/Cyclingnews.com)
Image 65 of 74

The race track at Spa-Francorchamps

The race track at Spa-Francorchamps
(Image credit: Elmar Krings)
Image 66 of 74

On the track

On the track
(Image credit: Elmar Krings)
Image 67 of 74

The peloton on the race track at Spa-Francorchamps

The peloton on the race track at Spa-Francorchamps
(Image credit: Elmar Krings)
Image 68 of 74

The peloton on the race track at Spa-Francorchamps

The peloton on the race track at Spa-Francorchamps
(Image credit: Elmar Krings)
Image 69 of 74

The five leaders on the race track at Spa-Francorchamps

The five leaders on the race track at Spa-Francorchamps
(Image credit: Elmar Krings)
Image 70 of 74

Sven Krauss (Gerolsteiner) leads the peloton at Francorchamps

Sven Krauss (Gerolsteiner) leads the peloton at Francorchamps
(Image credit: Elmar Krings)
Image 71 of 74

Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) in the thick of it

Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) in the thick of it
(Image credit: Elmar Krings)
Image 72 of 74

CSC on the front

CSC on the front
(Image credit: Elmar Krings)
Image 73 of 74

Jens Voigt (CSC)

Jens Voigt (CSC)
(Image credit: Elmar Krings)
Image 74 of 74

Danilo di Luca (Liquigas) enjoying the track

Danilo di Luca (Liquigas) enjoying the track
(Image credit: Elmar Krings)

Launching his sprint with 250 metres to go and sailing straight past Alberto Loddo, Axel Maximiliano Richeze and Olaf Pollack with apparent ease, Queenslander Robbie McEwen didn't even notice Paolo Bettini's late finishing burst until his second victory salute, where he flexed his might and muscles for all the world to see.

"I let all the others start their sprint; I just watched what everyone was doing, which direction they were going and I opened my sprint along the left. I never really went on the wheel of somebody - I just did my own thing in the sprint and passed everybody without too many problems," McEwen said.

"For me, my sprint almost begins three kilometres from the finish," he continued. "I told my two team-mates who were piloting me - [Nick] Gates and [Henk] Vogels - just to wait until three kilometres and then to put me in the wheel of the Milram train, so that's exactly what happened. They took me until 15 or 14 hundred metres from the finish and sent me off behind Lorenzetto who was the last man of Milram; I just stayed on the wheel and stayed calm untl the last 200 metres.

"It wasn't a surprise to see Milram set up the way they did, I knew they were going to. They did no work on the front all day - they still have some fast guys, like Rigotto and Lorenzetto, who finished behind me last week in Romandie. It's obvious they're still going to try; okay, they've lost Petacchi, but they still want to try and win. They've got a strong train, and I rode my sprint according to them," he said.

"They were working for their guy but indirectly working for me," McEwen said.

"They saved all their guys to ride the last four or five kilometres and the sprint. I used half of my guys to chase the breakaway in co-operation with Gerolsteiner, so we did a lot of work during the day basically for everybody in the bunch, so it's okay another team does some work for me in the sprint. But you still have to get that position and win the sprint," he said.

After his stage victory at the Tour de Romandie a week and a half ago, McEwen told Cyclingnews: "I just need that extra bit of conditioning to go to the Giro with." Well Robbie, whatever you did between then and now, you've obviously found it.

"This victory I could say is for a number of people: for Christophe Brandt from our team, who didn't start today because he broke his arm yesterday. I also said it's for Petacchi because he couldn't ride after he injured his knee, and also for my son because it's his birthday tomorrow."

Many have said this year's Giro d'Italia was not a Giro for sprinters, but so far, with two wins in three days, McEwen has made it so. And with another pancake flat stage this coming Friday, it could very well be vittoria number 11 for the 33 year-old. Unless Bettini manages to surprise him with his trademark hop.

"I'm not a pure sprinter but it was a good finish for me today, a fast finish," said Bettini. "When I started my sprint I hit someone, I think [Alberto] Loddo and it slowed me down a bit... but anyway, McEwen is difficult to beat!" he conceded.

With the entire field bar three all finishing on the same time today, there was little to no movement on the classifica generale. Yesterday's stage winner Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) continues to lead the 89th Giro, looking like a million bucks donned in the maglia rosa, while defending champion Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel), Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) and José Luis Rubiera Vigil (Discovery Channel) round out the top five, separated by 31 seconds.

What will tomorrow bring?

Well, for the 195 riders left in the 89th Giro, tomorrow brings the first day of rest. After a late-evening air-transfer from Liège to Parma tonight, a sleep-in will be in first on the menu, before the standard two-hour pedal, massage and evening meal.

Buon viaggio, plotone!

How it unfolded

Before the start of Stage 4, seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong stopped by the Discovery Team bus to hang with his homeys, and told the assembled media that "Savoldelli will win the Giro d'Italia."

196 riders left Wanze today at 12:03, with Alessandro Petacchi (Team Milram) and Christophe Brandt (Davitamon-Lotto) non-starters, due to a fractured left kneecap (Petacchi) and cracked elbow (Brandt). With the return of nice weather to the Giro, the remaining riders were ready to rock-on from the get-go. From the start in Wanze on the north bank of the Meuse River, Stage 4 headed south through Huy and immediately climbed the Cote d'Ahin. This initial ascent was bound to provoke attacks and 6km after passing the summit near Marcin, five riders escaped the clutches of the gruppo.

The front quintet was composed of Sandy Casar (Francaise de Jeux), Grischa Nierman (Rabonbank), Patrick "Beautiful" Calcagni (Liquigas-Bianchi), long, lean Jurgen Van de Walle (Quick.Step) and 35 year-old Alessandro Bertolini (Selle Italia). This break had the right combination of non-contenders and quickly gained time on the main group; by the tiny village of Tinlot at km 26, the escape had gained 3'30 and the tailwind had cranked up the pace, with 42.9km covered in the first hour.

After 50km, the break was five minutes in front and continued to make time on the peloton. The Giro percorso was now on the same tough, hilly roads as Liège-Bastogne-Liège. At the Cat. 3 GPM at Trois-points / Cote de Wanne after 83km, it was Casar who took the points, while the fast pace through the hilly terrain continued with the average speed 40.80 km/h.

Next up was the difficult climb to the GPM of La Haute Levée and the quintet had a gap of 6'20, while first rider over Casar saw him into the maglia verde of best climber. As the break dropped off the backside of the steep climb, they entered the auto racing circuit at Spa-Francorchamps, where Casar took the 110 Gazzetta intermediate sprint ahead of Calcagni and Van de Walle.

Across the terrain where the Battle of the Bulge was fought 62 years ago, the break's lead reached a maximum at 6'55, while maglia rosa Schumacher's Gerolsteiner squad and Davitamon-Lotto decided to increase the chase pace behind. Suffering from bad allergies since the beginning of the race, Bertagnolli (Cofidis) abandoned in the feed zone at Malmedy, with 195 riders now left in the 98th Giro d'Italia.

Now heading east through Vielsam with 55km to go, the break's lead had dropped to four minutes. The quintet was working well together, but the sprinters' teams back in the gruppo wanted it to come down to a sprint and kept the pressure on; with 45km to go across the rolling farmlands near the Luxembourg border, the gap was now 3' and falling fast, as the headwind made the situation out front more difficult for the break.

At 30km to go, the break was hanging out in front, as the giant form of Davitamon-Lotto's Bert Roesems was on the front and 15km later, the jig was almost up as the break's lead was down to 20 seconds in Bornal. As the gruppo approached, Niermann tried to get away but it was too late as T-Mobile had hit the front for their sprinter Olaf Pollack and it was now gruppo compatto after 174km out front.

On the run-in to the stage finish in the quaint country village of Hotton, the sprinters' teams began to look for elbow room, most notably Team Milram. With the absence of Ale-Jet Petacchi, the Milram milkmen were looking to launch second-string sprinter Mirko Lorenzetto, while Quick.Step was ready to launch Bettini. With 5.5km to go, Jensy Voigt (CSC) made a gutsy solo move and hung out in front, but with the sprinters' squads powering away on the long, straight road, his escape only lasted 1.5km.

Belgian champ Serge Baguet (Davitamon-Lotto) hit the front hard with 3km to go as the long, gentle descent into Hotton commenced. Milram was still up there, as was Henk Vogels of Davitamon-Lotto with Robbie McEwen right on his wheel. Rabobank's Graeme Brown was there, and Korff led out the swervy Pollack with 250 metres to go. But nothing could stop the Vogels-McEwen duo as he gave a perfect leadout. The speedy Queenslander rode to his 10th career stage win in the Giro d'Italia, and thanks to his points bonus, took over the maglia ciclamino of best sprinter from Bettini.

Thursday, May 11 - Stage 5: Piacenza-Cremona Team Time Trial, 38 km

The first Giro TTT since 1989 will be a billiard table fast, flat trip east the Po River valley, with a tailwind likely. Watch for a CSC-Discovery Channel battle on these dead-flat roads south of Milano, while the climbers' teams could lose minutes to such powerhouse squads.

Latest on Cyclingnews