McEwen rides in WA ... minus the cobblestones

Dale Miller
Robbie McEwen celebrates winning a stage of the Tour de France. Picture: Reuters

Australian cycling great Robbie McEwen has welcomed the return of cobblestoned sections to next year's Tour de France, saying the treacherous stages and carnage from the 2014 race was good for the sport's profile.

Tour winner Chris Froome was among the high-profile casualties of the feared fifth stage this year, pulling out after falling twice in wet conditions on a treacherous 152km stretch that included seven sections of cobblestoned road.

Organisers have again included cobbles in the 2015 circuit for the world's greatest cycling race to go with five mountain-top finishes.

Riders will have to tackle 30km of uneven cobbles in northern France on stage four.

McEwen, a triple winner of the tour's green jersey sprinter's classification, gave a thumbs-up to the route choice.

"They've really tailored the race to get as much excitement out of it as possible," he said.

"There'll be some riders with mixed feelings (about cobbles), but a guy like Lars Boom who won that stage this year, he'll be rubbing his hands together.

"It's not a lot of fun when you're a rider. It is really stressful the whole way - that you could fall any second - but it makes for great TV. It was one of the most talked about days of sport for the whole year.

"It gives the race balance. Cycling is so diverse with the types of course you can ride. Why not include cobbles for those who are the classics-type rider to give them a chance in the Tour as well?

"It's not going to please everyone, but it's a crowd pleaser."

McEwen is visiting Perth on Monday to host a breakfast and an exclusive ride along the Swan River in conjunction with Bicycling WA.

Guests will have the chance to hear about McEwen's experiences first hand before taking in the sights of Perth's foreshore in the company of the grand tour rider.

The 42-year-old will also be participating in the Tour of Margaret River from November 6-9 alongside Orica-GreenEDGE and WA duo Cameron Meyer and Luke Durbridge.

McEwen said 26-year-old Meyer had the talent to bounce back from a disappointing 2014 where he failed to finish a grand tour and achieved just one top-10 finish overall in Europe.

"Mentally he's got to have that killer instinct on the road that he has on the track," McEwen said.

The Queenslander also said the sport had gone a long way towards cleaning up an image tarnished by drugs cheat Lance Armstrong.