Role: Sprinter until mid-season retirement, then team advisory role
2011 WorldTour ranking: 159
- Giro d’Italia: 8th in stage 2
- Down Under Classic: 3rd
- Tour Down Under: 2nd in stage 2, 3rd in stage 1
- Tour de Mumbai: 2nd
- Tour de Wallonie: 1st in stage 4
- Tour de Wallonie-Picarde: 1st overall, won stages 1 & 4
Why I like him:
Ask Paul Sherwen [that’s the TV commentator that isn’t Phil Liggett – Ed] about Robbie McEwen and he will no doubt mention his invisibility cloak – the peloton winds up for the sprint and he’s nowhere to be seen until hey! presto! he comes flying out of nowhere to hurtle towards the finish line. McEwen is one incredible sprinter – he’s won his three green jerseys without a big, powerful lead-out train like Cipollini or Cavendish, but by using his wits, his incredible eye for the right wheel to follow and his explosive jump that would leave his competitors racing for second.
Personally, sprints don’t do a lot for me – climbs and Classics are more my thing, but I have always loved Robbie McEwen. I like him because he speaks up for himself – people have sometimes taken that as having a chip on his shoulder when I think he just doesn’t suffer fools gladly (and why should he?) But if you do know your stuff and you treat him with the respect he deserves, he always gives a good interview.
I also like that he’s just a little guy who nips in and out, ducking and diving, riding faster and faster. He’s also smart – his autobiography details how he reads a race and makes the most of the peloton’s energy to accomplish his goals. This year is his last one riding, retiring about halfway through the season to take on an advisory role with his new team, GreenEDGE. I only hope he rides one last Tour de France so he can give his invisibility cloak one last airing in July.
Where to see him in 2012:
Tour Down Under, Giro d’Italia, Tour de France (hopefully).
Watch out for regular updates tracking Robbie McEwen’s 2012 season over the coming months.