PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
Last year Robbie McEwen and Tom Boonen were literally fighting it out shoulder against shoulder for victory in the Scheldeprijs. This year the chance of a repeat was practically non-existent given the fact that Robbie McEwen was returning to racing for the first time after a long period on the sideline due to illness, writes Susanne Horsdal.
"I'm just trying ot find some form. You have to start somewhere and this is as good a place as any," explained McEwen at the start in Antwerp.
The Australian hasn't raced for almost a month. Following continuous physical problems including bronchitis and blocked sinuses, the sprinter decided to take a serious rest after falling ill again the night before the Milan-San Remo. At that point he hadn't felt well since the Tour of Qatar in which he won a stage. That rest meant nine days completely off the bike before he could slowly take up training again. The result was restored health, but his form had gone back to zero.
Slowly, the Davitamon-Lotto rider has been trying to get back in gear and, prior to the Scheldeprijs, had just returned from a training camp in Italy. The spring season has long been written off, now it's all about the Giro d'Italia.
"Right now I just need to get some race kilometres in the legs. My next objective is the Giro. Everything from now to the Giro is just preparation," explained McEwen.
Later in the afternoon, it was a wet and dirty, but pleased, McEwen who crossed the finish line in 20th place, 4-54 down on the winner, Thorwald Veneberg.
"I'm very happy. I never expected to be in this shape already. It was my first race in a month and I consider my come back a success," said McEwen, who'll keep chasing top form in Veenendaal-Veenendaal, Niedersachsen Rundtfahrt and Rund um den Henninger Turm prior to the Giro.
- Peter van Petegem, who crashed badly in the Paris-Roubaix and later had to drop out, is undergoing daily treatment from a physiotherapist for the injuries he picked up. Fortunately for the Davitamon-Lotto rider, further examinations have shown that his injuries are limited to bad cuts and bruises and no fractures have been discovered, as had previously been feared. "It was the worst crash of my career," Van Petegem admitted on Wednesday. The 34-year-old Belgian, who was to have started in the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, is now expected to return to racing in the Tour of Belgium at the end of May.