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  Monday, 1 July, 2002, 13:21 GMT 14:21 UK
McEwen prepares for revenge
Robbie McEwen cannot stop winning this season
McEwen has hit top form this season so far

Robbie McEwen has pledged to put a "career-threatening" 2001 season behind him in his bid for Tour de France glory.

The Australian sprinter endured a miserable season last year, falling out with his Domo-Farm Frites management.

His lowest ebb came when he was left out of the Tour de France team, despite being their top sprinter.

A move to Lotto-Adecco has brought out the best from the 30-year-old who has enjoyed his best season in the sport.


He stuffed my year and he very nearly stuffed my career
Robbie McEwen on his former boss

He started the year by being crowned Australian Road Race Champion and won four stages on the Tour Down Under.

He took two more on the Giro d'Italia and was also victorious in the Etoile de Besseges and Scheldeprijs.

Only six-time green jersey wearer Erik Zabel has won more this season.

And McEwen, despite having already proved his former employers wrong, believes the Tour will be the perfect opportunity to rub salt into the wound.

He told BBC Sport Online: "Last year was a shocker and that was all due to my team manager.

"He stuffed my year and he very nearly stuffed my career. The final straw came with the Tour de France. He didn't want me to stay and I didn't want to stay. And that was that."

The year of turmoil does not look to have had a detrimental impact.

He is now 10th in the official world rankings and one of the clear favourites for an early stage win.

"My goal in this Tour is to go for the stage victories," he revealed. "Anything else is a bonus I guess.

Robbie McEwen winning the final stage of the 1999 Tour
McEwen has beaten the top sprinters before

"I'm not going out there going for the green jersey straight away but, should it be realistic after eight days, then I'll go for it."

McEwen faces tough opposition from fellow countryman Stuart O'Grady and Erik Zabel.

And the Lotto sprinter is accustomed to beating both, having outsprinted them on the final stage of the 1999 Tour, his only stage Tour stage win to date.

"I really want to add to that," he said. "I've been close enough in the past but that doesn't count.

"This season I think I've got rid of that nearly man tag this season and I plan to continue that in France.

"The feeling of winning is pure elation when you realise you've beaten the best sprinters in the world. It's something you never tire of."

Aside from the stage wins, his key goal in what is his fifth Tour is to finish the race.

But, as a natural sprinter, the mountain stages always take their toll.

He recalled: "There are days that are never ending, mountains that are never ending and even single kilometres that are never ending.

"I've experienced that sensation in every Tour so far. And I expect to feel it again.

"But that won't stop me from getting that first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower on the final day and the prospect of finishing the race."

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