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Robbie McEwen is a well known name not just in Australian Cycling scenes but also international cycling. He is one of the best cyclists to come out of Australia and won the sprinters green jersey 3 times, as well as winning 12 sprint stages in the Tour de France and 12 in the Giro d'Italia. Robbie also won the Aussie Road Nats on 2 occasions in 2002 and 2005, bringing the Australian National Champions jersey to the crowds of Europe. Robbie was often hard to find in the peloton from the aerial shots and would often only appear in the final few hundred metres of the race.
The year was 2007 and it was the opening road stage, typically has its fair share of crashes because everyone is on edge and battling for the front wheels and today was not going to be any exception. The stage was departing from London, UK, and David Millar was keen to put on a show for his local fans. He won the first sprint before waiting for Andrey Grivko, Stephanie Auge and Aleksander Kuschynski to join him in the break They worked together for the remainder of the race until it became time for the sprinters teams to reign them back in.
At around 20km to go there was carnage in the peloton with a crash bringing down more than 20 riders, including pre stage favourite Robbie McEwen, who seemed like he had lost all hopes of winning the stage now. Robbie didn't give up his hopes though and neither did his team, whilst it is normal tradition to wait for a stage favourite or yellow jersey wearer to get back on the bunch if they had a crash or mechanical, the peloton couldn't wait as they still hadn't caught the breakaway riders yet so they had no time to slow down. If Robbie was going to win it was going to be an all out battle to the line.
Some of his team mates dropped back from the bunch to help him get back on and a few k's later he was spotted entering the end of the peloton. Even getting back into the bunch was a big enough ask, surely it would be impossible for him to reach the front as well? The commentators had certainly counted him out of this victory and were speaking of the likes of Tom Boonen (who was still contesting sprints at this stage), Robbie hunter and Thor Hushovd for line honours. Coming into the final few hundred meters the South African Robbie Hunter from Barloworld looked to have a big enough kick to take it originally, however it turns out he was premature and the sprinters started to come over him leading in to the final sweeping bend.
Then much to everyones surprise out of nowhere, Robbie McEwen exploded from the pack, powering around the best sprinters in the world like they were standing still. Powering on through adrenaline from his crash and blood dripping from his knee, he crossed the line in first place for what I believe was his greatest Tour de France win to date, and what a win to finish it on as well, as this was the last stage he would win at LeTour.
If you are ever out for a ride on the Gold Coast in QLD, I recommend visiting Piccolo Espresso in Miami. It is owned by Robbie and they have awesome food. Whenever I'm down that way I make sure I stop in for a coffee.
Don't forget to watch the video below!