Robbie McEwen is one of the most prolific winners in cycling. For the current edition of Cycle Sport, the Aussie sprinter narrowed his all-time list down to his 10 best wins, and recounted them in his own inimitable style.
McEwen has got a photographic memory for sprinting ? he can remember the details of every sprint he has taken part in, win or lose. Here he tells Cycle Sport about his first professional victory, at the 1996 Tour of Murcia.
1. TOUR OF MURCIA, 1996. STAGE FOUR, YECLA ? MY FIRST PRO WIN
1 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Rabobank
2 Djamolidine Abdoujaparov (Uzb) Refin
3 Jeroen Blijlevens (Ned) TVM
I?d not had a good start to my pro career. I had a knee operation in Nov 1995, six weeks before the contract started. Great way to start.
I struggled through January, and in February I got one kicking after another. In my very first race, with Abdou and Cipollini in Costa degli Etruschi, I got overexcited, hit out from about 400 metres, and was on the front with 100 metres to go, then I ran eighth. They all went past.
I went to Murcia but by this time I was starting to feel good. On stage four, we came into the finish and it was a kilometre straight ahead, false flat up, tailwind. I was about eighth or 10th.
At 250 metres to go, I felt it was time to go. I stepped out from where I was, pretty far back, came out of the wheel and went straight up through the guts. I passed everyone and kept going.
I noticed the blokes I was passing and thought, well this is pretty good. Abdou, had already won green jerseys, and the others were guys who?d won Tour stages. All the best sprinters were there.
It?s funny, at the time, nobody made much mention of it. If you took a neo pro now, who comes out in March and goes and beats, say, McEwen, Cavendish and Boonen in a bunch sprint, the headlines would be, ?The new man has arrived?.
Back then, well, that was good, I don?t know if Rabobank ever realised what they had, because I kept on having to find my own way even after that.
But I thought, you beauty. I?m away. Then I went sh*thouse in the next race, at Setmana Catalana. I couldn?t scratch myself.
To read about McEwen?s other favourite wins, including victory on the Champs Elyées wearing the green jersey, and outsprinting Mario Cipollini at the Giro, buy the July edition of Cycle Sport, in all good newsagents now.
Cycle Sport July 2009 on sale now: What’s in the issue