Aussie veteran Robbie McEwen dashed to victory in the opening stage of Franco-Belge in the four-day stage race along the Belgian-French border.
McEwen, who did not race in last weekend’s world championships, made easy work of defending champion Adam Blythe (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Rüdiger Selig (Leopard Trek).
It was good for the second win of the season for the 39-year-old RadioShack sprinter.
“My teammates brought me in a perfect position,” McEwen said in a team release. “Sky was pulling for Russell Downing. Behind their trio of Sutton, Henderson and Downing, Blyth was there with his teammate Vandousselaere. I was in the wheel of Blyth who accelerated. I could easily go around him and his teammate. My sprint was very regular, no explosiveness, but I continuously accelerated. I had to as the last 150 meters were really uphill. I could keep up my pace and won quite easily. This makes me happy.”
RadioShack director Dirk Demol said McEwen’s experience continues to pay dividends even though his explosiveness is decreasing with age.
“It is always a pleasure to work with Robbie McEwen,” Demol said. “Despite his age that lends to less explosiveness, he never gives up and is always fighting for his position. He is an example for all other riders. The team also believed in him and worked a lot for him.”
The first stage from Mouscron to Péruwelz started very fast. The average speed the first hour of the race was more than 50 kph. After that, three riders (Ronan Van Zandbeek (Skil-Shimano), David Lelay (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Jonathan Dewitte (Wallonie Bruxelles-Crédit Agricole) managed to stay away from the peloton but were finally caught in the local laps.
Robbie McEwen starts Friday in the yellow leader’s jersey in stage 2 to Poperinge.
“The overall victory is not the main objective here as we came for stage wins, but you never know. Most important is that I get ready for Paris-Tours, my last objective of the season.”
- 1. Robbie MCEWEN, (AUS) Team RadioShack, in 4:03:18
- 2. Adam BLYTH, (GBR) Omega Pharma-Lotto, at s.t.
- 3. Rudiger SELIG, (GER) Leopard-Trek, at s.t.
- 4. Nacer BOUHANNI, (FRA) Fran�aise Des Jeux, at s.t.
- 5. Michael VAN STAEYEN, (BEL) Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator, at s.t.