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5th Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under - 2.3

Australia, January 21-26, 2003

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News for January 25, 2003

McEwen philosophical as he pulls out of Jacob's Creek

Second overall in GC but left knee screams 'stop'

By Gerard Knapp in Adelaide

Robbie McEwen
Photo: © Tom Balks
Click for larger image

"It's a shame, but that's life," Robbie McEwen said from the side of the road following his dramatic withdrawal from stage 5 of the 2002 Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under. "Athletes can be fragile at times, especially when you're in good shape."

Currently in second place on general classification and still considered a favourite for the overall, the Lotto-Domo rider from Queensland was philosophical and cautious about the shooting pain which struck his left knee while riding in the 1.6km neutral zone of this morning's stage. He continued on and rode the first 40km of stage 5, but caution prevailed. As the peloton came back into Willunga to finish the first lap, McEwen abandoned the race after speaking with team director Henrik Redant.

He has had surgery on the left knee in 1995 and 1999, so he was well aware of what could happen if he pushed on in the stage. McEwen told Ride Cycling Review's Rob Arnold, one of the first journalists to reach him, that "I persevered and rode the first lap, but I can't take the risk that I'm going to do major damage."

"I decided to pull out and get my knee looked at. Hopefully it's nothing and it will go away by itself. Maybe I just pinched something and it was residual pain ... I don't know."

One of his priorities is to see physiotherapist Victor Popov as soon as possible, as it appears unlikely he will be leaving for Europe on Tuesday as planned. "The best decision to take was to stop. To keep pushing would have been too great a risk and if I did more damage I wouldn't forgive myself."

McEwen had been in excellent form in the Jacob's Creek this year. While not up to his 2002 JCTDU, where he bagged four stage wins, the Queenslander had secured one stage win, was always in the finale and was higher placed on GC this year. He was also seriously chasing the overall win. But not any longer. "I want to try and find out what it is and get it better as soon as possible," he said.

This year McEwen not only has his eyes on another Tour de France green jersey, but he also told Cyclingnews.com of his desire to enter - and win - Milan - San Remo.

"Over the summer, I've been doin' the k's, but I haven't concentrated on trying to get into race condition. The plan is for me to peak slightly later, and hopefully the plan will come to fruition by the time I reach Milan-San Remo," he revealed (see previous story).

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