PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
Robbie McEwen's convincing stage win on Wednesday put the Australian back in the green jersey, and on the hunt for further stage wins.
"It couldn't have gone better today if I'd written the script myself," McEwen said. Despite losing usual lead-out man Fred Rodriguez to a crash in Tuesday's stage, McEwen had Gert Steegmans as his replacement 'pilot fish'. "We brought Steegmans as a strong rider, who would normally be the man in front of Rodriguez, but after his crash, Steegmans has stepped in to fill the role perfectly."
McEwen had targeted the stage for some time, and had plenty of instructions for Steegmans. "I told him what I wanted him to do, except that he almost went too early. I managed to rein him in again, and he went with 450 metres to go. I'd told him that he should imagine that his finish line was 200 metres from the finish.
"When I took over, I didn't dare look, but I knew I was slowing down," the Australian said, who in fact won by around five bike lengths from Caisse d'Epargne's Isaac Galvez.
"You know what the secret of the team's success so far in this Tour?" McEwen piped up, unprompted. "We stayed in this chateau last night, near Liege, and just about everyone had their wives or girlfriends with them. It made for a great family atmosphere, as, with all the staff, there were around 50-60 of us. Maybe we should take them around the whole Tour."
McEwen was more serious when he answered a question in the post-stage press conference relating to the Operacion Puerto case about Dr Fuentes admission that he had worked with athletes other than cyclists.
"Lots of riders here have been saying that it's about time that they named others from other sports [who may be involved]; it's always just cycling," McEwen said. "It's a scandal that the names of other sportsmen weren't named at all, and that all the garbage was thrown on cycling. It should have happened right from the beginning if they were going to start naming names - not just cycling."