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McEwen gives Tour cycling team an edge
By Roger Vaughan
16:31 AEST Tue Jul 3 2012

At more than 70km/h in a frenzied Tour de France sprint, little things make a massive difference.

One of the many reasons Australian cycling legend Robbie McEwen enjoyed such a stellar career was his attention to that detail.

Now he is lending that experience to the Orica-GreenEDGE sprint leadout train at the Tour.

McEwen retired from racing in May and one of his current roles at the new Australian team is sprint coach.

At the Tour, that means driving to the finish of each sprint stage earlier in the day, riding his bike over the last few hundred metres and taking note of everything.

"You do that as the Tour unfolds because the most important thing is to go and see those finishes under race conditions, when the barriers are set up.

"Once the barriers are there on the day, that's when you really see 'what's that corner actually like. Do I have to brake a little bit?'

"Or would I have to tell the boys to go through it 100 per cent, give it everything, even if it's a blind corner and they can't see the exit.

"You have Google maps and you get a diagram but, on the day, you see if (the finish) is just on the top of that little rise, just before the top of that little rise, is there something on the right meterage out from the finish they can use to their advantage?"

One of McEwen's strengths as a rider was the ability to come from out of nowhere in a field sprint and take the win.

There was a lot more to it than just blinding speed and luck.

The level of recall that sprinters such as McEwen and stage-two winner Mark Cavendish have about these sprints is incredible.

"One centimetre can make the difference on the finish line so, if the guys do something that make them one centimetre faster and wins them the stage, then it's all been worth it," he said.

"It's looking at those little details."

He was impressed with how Orica-GreenEDGE worked for Matt Goss in stage two, in which he finished third behind Cavendish.

While they struggled to find enough space to launch Goss to the finish, McEwen said it will soon all come together for them.

"The boys did very, very well to get (Goss) back in position. They got shut down a few times when they wanted to pass," he said.

"But that's a Tour sprint.

"I'm sure they'll pull it off one of these days."

That could well happen in stage four from Abbeville to Rouen, which has the same sort of course profile that would have had McEwen the sprinter licking his lips in anticipation.


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