Friday, July 08, 2005

Robbie Mc-Two-en!!

courtesy Roberto Bettini

Australian champion Robbie McEwen doubled his winnings at this year's Tour de France by beating all others in the final sprint of stage 7. Despite continued rain and a long finishing straight filled with attacks and a crash, McEwen out-powered every rival (including an out-of-position Tom Boonen).

Now the green jersey competition is alive with Tom Boonen retaining his lead but McEwen once again in contention.
Points classification

1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step 133 pts
2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole 122
3 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 96
4 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone 91
5 Robert Förster (Ger) Gerolsteiner 75

The "big" surprise of the day (pun intended) was Liquigas strong-man and former Paris-Rubaix winner Magnus Backstedt, who finished second behind McEwen with a very impressive burst of speed down the final straight. Backstedt is a very large guy---the heaviest in the peloton at 90+ kg---and next to little McEwen is quite an intimidating rider. It is fairly well-known that many early-career sprinters go on to become successful one-day racers (or, in the case of Laurent Jalabert, mountain climbers), but maybe Backstedt will reverse the trend to become a great sprinter after success as a one-day racer. Who knows?