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By: Zdenko Kahlina
Tales from the peloton, May 29 2009.
Australian Robbie McEwen (Team Katusha) suffered a serious knee injury in a crash two kilometers from the finish during stage two of the Tour of Belgium. The extent of the 36-year-old sprinter’s injuries will likely force McEwen to miss the 2009 Tour de France.
Bart Leysen, Team Katusha directeur sportif, commented on the severity of the injury to McEwen’s left knee:
“Robbie is now in the hospital. His knee joint is okay, but he cut ligaments under his left knee and the doctor’s rebuilding it. It’s almost impossible for him to participate in the Tour de France and he fears for the rest of his career.”
“Robbie hit a tub of flowers and fell. He went off to hospital for analysis,” said the racer’s sporting director Jef Braeckevelt. “I am hoping for good news but I fear a serious injury as he has an open and deep wound just above the knee,” he added.
His fears proved well-founded as team official Bart Leysen later told Italian television that the rider’s “ligaments have been strained and a tendon may have been partially torn.”
Leysen added that doctors had warned McEwen may have to quit the saddle for some four months and “fears for his career.” According to Leysen, doctors have advised McEwen that a recovery may take one to four months.
A team statement added that McEwen “cut his ligaments under his left knee and the doctors are rebuilding it, (hence) it’s almost impossible his participation at the Tour de France.”
McEwen was forced to miss the Giro d’Italia due to injuries sustained in a crash at last month’s Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen. The Australian was using the Tour of Belgium and June’s Tour de Suisse to prepare for the 2009 Tour de France.
McEwen’s surgery successful
After a crash during stage two of the Tour of Belgium on Thursday, Robbie McEwen (Team Katusha) underwent a successful surgery to repair the major damage, a fracture of his tibial plateau [the top surface of the tibia bone that is part of the lower portion of the knee joint - ed.].
Doctors fixed his fracture with two screws and reported afterward that the alignment had gone well and there was no joint damage. McEwen began moving his knee, with the help of a special machine, on Friday. He’s expected to recover enough to return to his bike in three to four weeks.
McEwen’s crash, two kilometers before the end of the stage, brought an end to his Tour de France aspirations for this season.
|Day of birth: °24 juni 1972|
|Length: 1,71 m|
|Weight: 67 kg.|
|Place of birth: Brisbane, Queensland|
|Domicile Belgium: Brakel|
|Domicile Australia: Goldcoast|
|Nickname: De kangeroe van Brakel|
|Professional since: 1998|
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.
1 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Rabobank
2 Djamolidine Abdoujaparov (Uzb) Refin
3 Jeroen Blijlevens (Ned) TVM
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
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.
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.
Robbie was born on June 24th 1972 in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Very early, he showed the traits of being a winner on the bike. He started his career riding BMX races and his first team was Surfers Paradise Cycling Club from his native Gold Coast.
On the BMX, Robbie was Australian Junior Champion. At the age of 18, he switched to road races. Robbie’s plans to become a teacher were forgotten; our “Kangaroo of Brakel” clearly had a future as a cyclist.
Everybody soon discovered that he as an impressive sprint. Four years later, in 1994, Robbie was selected for the first time in the Australian National Road Team. After a successful two years with the Aussie team where he won 50 races Robbie was ready to take the next step in his career.
In 1996, he signed his first professional contract with Holland’s Rabobank and found a niche in Brakel, Belgium. Where he would met his future bride, Angélique Pattyn.
Robbie met Angélique when he was buying contact lenses in the Pattyn’s family optical shop. He certainly looked deep in her eyes, and they soon became inseparable, eventually getting married.
Professionally, things were running quite well, with Robbie collecting the victories. Robbie was named Australia’s Road Cyclist of the year in 1999, 2002 and 2005, and is known as one of the fastest sprinters in the world. In 2002, 2004 and 2006, he won the prestigious green jersey in the Tour de France, the first Aussie to achieve it.
In 2002, Robbie was also on the podium of the World Championship in Zolder, with the silver medal around his neck. He has twice been Australian champion, bagged 11 stages in the Tour de France, 11 stages in the Giro d’Italia, 3 times Paris-Brussels, Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen, …, just to quote some victories of his great palmares !
In his private life, the birth of his son Ewan, on May 10th 2002, was an unforgettable event and the start of the Belgian season in 2006 was also unforgettable. The night before the ‘Omloop Het Volk’ little Elena was born, the first daughter of Robbie and Angélique and a sister for Ewan !
Since then, spending time with little Ewan is one of Robbie’s favourite pass times, along with playing golf and surfing. His favourite music varies from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to a whole range of hip-hop and R & B, and of course Aussie band Powderfinger.
Presently, Robbie is in his twelfth professional season, racing for the Belgian Predictor-Lotto formation. He is personally sponsored by Sidi, Oakley and Roamfree.com
Robbie is also involved in industrial development. Robbie is a company director for CONDEV Developments who specialize in acquisition of industrial land and building of factory warehousing. This is a new venture which Robbie plans to develop further post – cycling.
Check out www.condevconstruction.com.au
Robbie McEwen quotes
- Today I timed it just right,”
- It’s now 2-2 with Tom but this is not football. I ride to win stages not to compete against another rider. We have a sporting rivalry but we’re good friends.
- 600-metres from the end is not the time to be careful, but it’s not the time to be too dangerous either.
Tour de France points jersey 2002, 2004, 2006
10 Tours de France, 12 Tour stage wins
1st, Australian road champion 2002, 2005
1st, Paris-Brussels 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007
2nd, World Championships 2002
3rd, Down Under Classic
1st, Vattenfall Classic Hambourg
Stage win, Tour de France
Two stage wins, Tour de Suisse
5th, stage 6, Tour Down Under
1st, Darren Smith Cycle Classic
1st, Paris Brussels
1st, Arhus Criterium
1st, stage 3, Eneco Tour
1st, Altstadt Criterium
1st, stage 1, Tour de France
1st, stage 4, Tour de Suisse
1st, Profronde van Wierden
1st, Nacht van Hengelo
1st, stage 2, Giro d’Italia
1st, stage 2, Tour de Romandie
1st, stage 1, Tirreno – Adriatico
1st, Burleigh Worlds Criterium
1st, stage 5, Tour Down Under
1st, stage 3, Jayco Bay Classic
1st, 3 stages Tour de France
1st, 3 stages Giro d’Italia
1st, stage 1, Tour de Romandie
1st, Paris – Brussels
1st, stage Jayco Bay Cycling Classic
1st, stage GP International
1st overall, GP International
1st, Stage 3-daagse West-Vlaanderen
1st, Arona critérium
1st, Criterium Calais
1st, Natourcriterium Aalst
1st, Natourcriterium Herentals
1st, Dernycriterium Antwerpen
1st, Dernycriterium Bochum
1st, Criterium Bavikhove
1st, Wangen Criterium
1st, stage Herald Sun Tour
1st, Australian sprintchampionship
1st, 3 stages Tour de France
1st, 3 stages Giro d’Italia
1st, stage, Tour de Suisse
1st, Australian road championships
1st, GP Fourmies
1st, 3 stages, Tour Down Under
1st, stage, Tour of Qatar
1st, stage, Niedersachsen Ründfahrt
1st, 3 stages, Jayco Bay Cycling Classic
1st, Stadsprijs Geraadsbergen
1st, Gold Coast NYD criterium
1st, Criterium Peer
1st, Criterium Buggenhout
1st, Criterium Vayrac
1st, Betzdorfer City Night