Ride the Puddles

Robbie “Head-Butt” McEwen Out of Worlds

Posted by bikezilla on August 22, 2010

Robbie “Head-Butt” McEwen has been culled from Australia’s short list of riders to be included on their team for the upcoming Worlds.

Head-Butt, possibly the toughest man in professional cycling, was having a year better than the combination of age and injuries should have allowed and was getting better, hotter, as he moved through the season. He had somehow been performing at a level I’d thought was behind him.

But at 38 he’s still been miles behind his best performances and it isn’t just physical.

Head-Butt, in his glorious prime, wasn’t just good, he was scary. He had physical ability by the bucket-load (or busket load if you’re a “Suicide Kings” fan) and he was flat out mean on the bike, too. He was a force, a raw, ugly, brawling force, a huge and intimidating presence.

Now, as his speed and his physical strength subsides, he’s mellowed, but not softened. His outward brutality no longer beats against the will and bodies of his opponents. It’s been transformed, becoming an iron shell, protecting what remains of the furnace of his heart, making him simply hard and relentless.

But he’s no longer that savage and intimidating force on the bike that he was just a few years ago.

So Australia’s Worlds selection committee has shut the door in his face. No matter how gently or sadly they may have done it, the clatter of its lock rattling into place is no less brutal.

We’ll see them go with the less experienced and softer Heinrich Haussler, who recently gave up his German citizenship to become officially Australian, and they’ll team him up with Mark Renshaw.

It’s a sweet pairing, but lacks the emotional punch the team would have with Head-Butt.

Though I can understand it, it still pisses me off.

Hopefully, this doesn’t affect Head-Butt’s decision to ride another season, because I think he still has something significant to give.

If he quits, if this snub has so injured him that his fire is extinguished and he has no option but to quit even on himself, then I can only be disappointed. I’ve come to expect a lot more from the toughest man in professional cycling.

But, hey, it’ll let us see his auto-biography that much sooner, right?

We can wait for the book, Robbie. Ride.


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