‘It wasn’t me, it was him’ seems to be the outcome of yesterday’s sprint head-to-head between Robbie
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Robbie McEwen expressed his disappointment with the race jury’s decision to relegate him from third to 186th place for an “irregular sprint” in yesterday’s stage into Tours. “I don’t know why I’ve been relegated,” said the Australian, who leaned heavily across onto compatriot Stuart O’Grady in the battle for second place behind Tom Boonen.
“It was O’Grady who leaned on my bars first of all. Two hundred metres from the line I moved to take Boonen’s wheel and O’Grady leaned with his arm into me. That meant I couldn’t keep my sprint going and all I could do to stop myself from falling was to lean onto him,” McEwen explained.
“The commissaries need to see what’s going on right from the start, because it was him who started it. Also, the commissaries don’t seem to understand the physicality of sprinting. If it hadn’t been me there at that moment but a less experienced rider there could have been 20 riders down on the ground.”
You won’t be surprised to hear that O’Grady didn’t see the incident in quite the same way. “I was well placed, I started my sprint from 150 metres out and, when Boonen passed me, Robbie came alongside me and barged me with his head and elbow. Without that I’m sure I could have finished second to Boonen,” explained the Cofidis rider.
While the Aussies battled with each other, yesterday’s sprint war went firmly in Boonen’s favour. Not only did he win, but he saw his main rival for the points title, McEwen, relegated from the point-winning places.
“I’m sorry for him because it’s not good when this happens to someone,” said Boonen of the his rival’s relegation, then adding: “But I would be lying if I didn’t say that McEwen’s relegation was a great piece of news with regard to my objective of winning the green jersey.”
It wasn’t all bad for McEwen, though, as the Australian believes his form is good and that it will pay off once a bit of luck goes his way. “The team worked remarkably well. At 300 metres, Rodriguez, who was leading me out, was still not in the 11 sprocket, so we lost of a bit of momentum because of that,” the defending points champion explained.
“When Boonen made his effort I hesitated for a moment behind my team-mate, and it was my loss. Because the instant I made a move I was sandwiched between [Peter] Wrolich and O’Grady, and I simply couldn’t get between them. But I feel good, my legs feel good, and I was just unlucky today. In truth, on Sunday and again today I haven’t really managed to sprint full on.”