Get over Armstrong and look to future, says McEwen
TOUR de France multiple stage winner Robbie McEwen says the public needs to start paying less attention to the Lance Armstrong drug saga and taking more notice of the sport's bright future in this country.
Despite retiring from the professional circuit in May, McEwen will throw his leg over a bike once again at this weekend's Noosa Triathlon Cycling Grand Prix.
In Saturday's criterium race, the man who has been considered one of the fastest sprinters in the world will come up against some of the country's best up-and-coming talent.
In retirement, McEwen has joined the training staff of the Orica-GreenEDGE team, many of whom he will line up against in Saturday's race.
Cycling's image has taken a battering in recent weeks following revelations of prolific drug cheating by Armstrong, the sport's most celebrated athlete.
McEwen appeared frustrated by the negative publicity the saga had wrought upon the sport.
Speaking to the Daily from his Gold Coast home, he argued some of Armstrong's Tour de France wins were more than a decade ago and therefore irrelevant.
He urged Australian fans to focus on talent such as former under-23 road race world champion Michael Matthews, Tour of Britain stage winner Leigh Howard and Road World Championships time-trial bronze medallist Luke Durbridge.
"They're the now of this sport and we've got a big range of guys, from first-year riders to experienced riders," McEwen said.
"The sport has a big future and you can see it in the (Orica-GreenEDGE) team.
"Obviously, the last few weeks the cycling news hasn't been that great, but that's old stuff - it's not relevant."
McEwen was also full of praise for and Orica-Green EDGE team member Shara Gillow, who is from the Coast and will be in action in the women's race at Noosa.
At the London Olympics, Gillow finished 13th in the time trial and 39th in the road race.
In the road race, Gillow looked to be in medal contention before she dropped her chain 10km from the finish.
McEwen said he could see a day when Gillow would occupy a spot on the dais at the Olympics or World Championships.
"She's one of the better riders on the world circuit, one of the very best," he said.
"But you just have to be lucky on the day ... at the worlds and Olympics, they're one-day events and one little slip-up or mistake and you can lose it."
At Noosa, McEwen will come up against Tour of Spain King of the Mountains winner Simon Clarke and 2012 Tour de France debutant Jonathan Cantwell.
London Olympics teams pursuit silver medallist Michael Hepburn was set to compete but withdrew because of a hand injury.
"I like coming to Noosa with the family and taking part and this year I'll be doing new things," McEwen said.
"I'll be at the launch (today) and I'll be one of the riders leading the Tour de Noosa on Friday. I'll be at the trade expo with some of my sponsors and of course racing in the criterium and taking part in the Legends tri."