(AP News) - Robbie McEwen has revealed he rode to victory in the sprint competition of the Tour de France with a broken back. But the 32-year-old is
adamant the injury will not disrupt his bid for Olympic glory next month in Athens.
"Hey, if I can ride the Pyrenees, the Alps and the Champs Elysees and win the green jersey with a broken back then one day in Athens is no problem,"
said the Queenslander after medical tests in Holland.
"I can ride and after a couple of easy days this weekend I'm going to keep riding and everything should just get better and better."
McEwen, who claimed the green jersey, two stage wins and spent a day in the yellow leader's jersey, sustained the injury in a nasty crash one
kilometre from the finish of Stage Six in the first week of racing in the 3391km 21-day event.
"I crashed within the last kilometre and landed on everything," said McEwen, who also crashed on Stage Five and during a mountain stage in the
"I had skin off from head to toe and then something hit me in the back.
"Not sure if it was a bike or a rider but it left a couple of very nasty bruises and fractured my L1 and L2 lumbar vertebrae."
McEwen went to a Dutch hospital today for an X-ray and cat scan which revealed the fractures, known as transverse process.
"Today was the first chance I found time to go to the hospital and I have to say I was relieved to hear the diagnosis because it explains why I was in
so much pain in agony for much of the Tour," he said.
"The two fractures are in the bones which are like little wings that come off your vertebrae," he said.
"The scan also showed that new bone is forming so the healing process has begun."
The plucky sprinter battled on despite the injury adding victory in Stage Nine to his win in Stage Two and amassing enough sprint points throughout
the three weeks to claim the green jersey title for the second time in three years.
"The pain was bad and I was really suffering in the last days of the Tour but I didn't want to tell anyone because I didn't want my rivals to get a
sniff of it," he said.
"(Physiotherapist) Victor Popov was able to work on everything around it to get me good enough to start each day but after one big sprint my back was
stuffed again and for the last sprint in Paris I could hardly ride."
McEwen said the diagnosis is not a complete surprise because Popov had told him it was the likely problem. But his wife Angelique is not quite as
blase about the injury.
"I came home from the hospital and said to the Missus come and give the hardest Tour rider a hug," he said.
"When I told her why she was stunned."
McEwen's feats have moved him to 11th in the world rankings released this week.