It’s often said that to be an
elite sprinter in road cycling you have to be a little mad, such is the routine
bravery and nerve required to duke it out during the dash for the line.

In the Tour of Italy, Baden Cooke
was lucky to escape serious injury after being cut off and sent flying as he was
about to overtake a rival who did what it took to win a vital stage, and today
it was Robbie McEwen, who while he wasn’t going to win, seemed intent on “heading”
off another Aussie from beating him across the line.

McEwen was again in the mix to win this morning’s stage, but so was
Stuart O’Grady, and when he found himself hemmed in behind the eventual
winner Tom Boonen (who won his second straight stage), McEwen tried to
force his way through on O’Grady’s line and when O’Grady quite rightly
wouldn’t budge, McEwen’s brain snapped.

I could only marvel at
how both of them stayed on their bikes as McEwen literally tried an extended
head-butt on O’Grady as he lent his helmet into him. And as O’Grady resisted McEwen’s
reckless provocations, he himself almost sent
another Aussie, Allan Davis, into the stands. It could have been carnage if any of the
trio had come off their bikes due to McEwen’s mad BMX moment.

For his trouble McEwen was
relegated to last in the field, O’Grady was then officially declared third and
Davis a terrific fifth. Race leader David Zabriskie
retains his two second lead in the race over Lance Armstrong who both stayed out
of trouble and away from the frenzied activity in the sprint to the line.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey