Robbie McEwen is fit to start the Tour Down Under, while CSC manager Bjarne Riis is looking forward
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM McEwen on the mend Predictor-Lotto’s Robbie McEwen is hoping he’ll be able to shake off illness and bag a stage win at this week’s Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Australia. McEwen has been suffering with bronchitis, but hopes the hot weather will help. “There was never any doubt about me coming here, but you never know how you’re going to go before you get out on the road,” McEwen said. The racing starts Tuesday evening with the Down Under Classic around the streets of Adelaide’s East End, which was won by McEwen last year. “It doesn’t count towards the overall of the Tour Down Under, but it’s still against the same guys and the same field, and is one of the first races of the season,” he said. “But I won’t be taking any big risks this week; it’s a chance to get in the kilometres and use the racing as a stepping stone for my season.” On Monday evening, McEwen already had a warm-up when he rode a track sprint against Aussie track sprinting star Ryan Bayley. “If I stand with both legs together, that’s about equal to one of Ryan’s legs,” McEwen joked on stage before the event at Adelaide’s Superdome velodrome, which the powerful Bayley won by a wheel length. Riis ready for the season It’s a mainly Australian affair for the CSC squad at the Tour Down Under, with Stuart O’Grady, Matt Goss and Luke Roberts, and Scott Sunderland as directeur sportif for the race. But the Danish team still boasts three Danes on its eight-man roster, as well as team manager Bjarne Riis, who’s come to Adelaide to see his charges in action in their first outing of the season. “CSC is a global company, and big here in Australia,” he said, explaining the team’s first appearance in the race, “and this race is maybe in the process of becoming a ProTour race. We’ve been the best ProTour team for the last two seasons, so we were keen to see what it’s like.” Riis heaped praise on the Australian riders on the team, revealing that he is a big admirer of riders from Down Under. “A lot come from the track, which I think is important. Although I really only rode on the track when I was a young rider, I know how much it helps,” he said. “It means you know how to handle your bike, and have learned how to pedal properly. Roberts, for example, is one of the most beautiful riders to watch when he rides. He was a great champion on the track, and hopefully he can become so on the road, too.” Local boy O’Grady is a big reason for the team making the trip from Europe, and has to go into the race as the big favourite, but, on paper at least, all of the team’s riders have a chance. “I always bring a good team to every race we come to, so everyone has a chance,” Riis said. “They just have to take it.” Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.