By Ross Stapleton

With typical sprinter’s
braggadocio Robbie McEwen earlier this morning won Australia’s first stage of
this year’s Tour de France – just edging past boom sprinter Tom Boonen by half a
wheel and then visibly remonstrating with a “what about me” gesture.

Following yesterday’s entanglement
with fellow Aussie sprinter Stuart O’Grady, McEwen’s win in today’s fifth stage
provided the feisty Queenslander with an opportunity to “stick it up ’em” – that is
the officials who dared to sabotage his chances of defending his title as the
Tour’s sprint champion.

McEwen timed his finishing sprint to perfection right on the
wheel of Boonen, and in the process countered Lance Armstrong’s claim that Boonen was
unbeatable in a stage sprint.

Again, O’Grady was in the mix
right at the finish but steering wider of McEwen this time to finish fourth, and
his form is such that you have to fancy him as a potential stage winner although
it might need to come courtesy of one of his typical long distance breakaway
moves. Allan Davis with his sixth
place also continues to shows a lot of the qualities that might yet see him pop
up as a stage winner along the way.

The peloton finished
together so Lance Armstrong continues to retain his 55 second lead over fellow
American and Discovery Channel team mate George Hincapie.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey