The old Armstrong is back. Is the old sprinter back, too?
Robbie McEwen of the sneezing Russian Katusha “Gazuntight” squad says he’s in great shape heading toward the Tour de France. “I am feeling good… my form is exactly where I hoped it would be, “said McEwen. “It is probably even a little bit better than I thought it would be.”
The 37 year old Australian still has a few good kicks left in him. “I was fourth the other day when Burghardt won [Tour of Switzerland.] So my condition is really, really good,” said the Katusha sprinter.
Who doesn’t want to see Rockin’ Robbie, one of the greatest bike handlers in a sprint finish, riding at full speed in France? Who doesn’t want to see a guy who never owned a train — and never needed one — go after Cavendish and Farrar? Who isn’t dying to see one of Phil Liggett’s favorite riders hit the gas in the last 200 meters?
Twisted Spoke has always felt that Robbie McEwen was the pre-Cav. A feisty fastman with never minded fired off a few sound bites. He was cocky and talky and you always knew what he was thinking. Which was usually a variation of “I’m great and I’ve be even greater with a train.”
It’s been a number of slow years for McEwen and slow is absolute torture for a sprinter. Injuries, aging, adjustments to a new team, the difficult Russian lessons, a few badly timed crashes and slow recoveries have all kept Rockin’ Robbie from hopping on the podium.
Is he ready to take on the mouth that roared down the Champs Elysees? Is he ready to mess with the Columbia train schedule? “It is bit early to say that Columbia is less in control,” said McEwen. “They will have a couple of other riders come in for the Tour. Okay, they are not as dominant as they were last year, but the Tour still has to be ridden and that is a whole different thing again.”
It’s already significantly different, if you ask Twisted Spoke. Robbie is ready to rock.