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McEwen's tips to sprint glory
Around the Academy:

Robbie McEwen in action at the 2004 Tour de France
McEwen will be going for green at the 2004 Tour

Australia's Robbie McEwen was among the riders to beat in the frantic sprints throughout the 2004 Tour de France.

The Lotto-Domo sprinter won the green jersey, the prize for the most consistent sprinter in the Tour, at the 2002 edition of the race - and regained it in 2004.

He ended Erik Zabel's six-year winning streak in the competition by winning the final stage two years ago on the Champs Elysees.

In 2003 he was pipped to the post for the coveted jersey by fellow Aussie Baden Cooke - by a mere two points!

But last year Robbie got his revenge and ended the race in green again.

Here he reveals to the Academy his tips for outsprinting the best.

Robbie McEwen

More than anything else, top-level sprinting comes from experience. I'd been a professional for seven years before last year's green jersey win.

Things had clicked before then but only occasionally. Then in 2002 everything went to plan - not just in the Tour but throughout the season.

It didn't seem like I was doing anything differently in the sprints or that I'd worked particularly differently in training.

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It's one hell of a buzz when you pull it off
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Of course you need power in the sprints, so leg-work is a must. And you're either set to be a sprinter or you're not. It's not something that materialises overnight.

But more than any of that, there are a lot more key steps.

Sprinting is all about confidence. Once you start winning regularly, your confidence begins to soar. That is the key.

Plus there's the experience I mentioned before. Experience tells you what to do automatically when you build up for the sprint in the final kilometres.

Mental strength is also crucial. If you can out-psyche and out-think your rivals, everything slots into place that much more easily.

Robbie McEwen (right) battles with Baden Cooke on the Champs Elysees
McEwen lost out narrowly to Cooke in 2003
And you need a good sprinter's brain. You need to read the situation well and know when to make that telling break.

But how to go about your sprint changes from rider to rider.

Mario Cipollini for example tends to have a solitary lead out man and then just powers his way to the line.

Everyone knows about the Telekom train that leads Zabel in before he finally pulls clear of the final rider's slipstream for the win.

But for me, I like one of my team-mates to put me in a good position in the peloton with about 500m to go.

I've always thrived on doing things for myself after that, latching on another team's lead and then just going for it.

It's one hell of a buzz when you pull it off.

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Did you know?
Robbie is fluent in Flemish, the official language of Belgium where he lives with his wife and child

Robbie facts
Born: 24.06.72
Team: Lotto-Domo
Height: 1.71m
Weight: 67kg
Tour de France: 2002 - 130th, green jersey winner; 2003 - 143rd; 2004 - 122nd, green jersey winner

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