We've got used to cheering Aussie sprinter Robbie McEwen to the line, usually decked out in the Tour de France's green jersey. But Mike Tomalaris senses a change in positions at the top.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:36 PM

Has Robbie McEwen finally met his match?

Given the breakthrough win by Mark Cavendish in stage 4 of the Giro d'Italia, that's the question being tossed around by long time admirers of the great Australian.

Podcast: video highlights of every stage of the 2008 Giro d'Italia

So who is the better sprinter in 2008 - McEwen or Cavendish?

There's so much about Cavendish which reminds us of McEwen when he first burst onto the pro-cycling scene 12 years ago.

Cavendish has been groomed for success for a couple of years himself.

He first caught the eye of cycling followers at the 2005 Track World Championships when he won gold for Great Britain in the Madison.

The following year at Melbourne Commonwealth Games he thrilled Australian fans by taking out the scratch race representing the Isle of Man.

There's no stopping the 22 year old - he's moved along in leaps and bounds in such a short space of time - just last month he won the Madison at the world championships for a second time.

This guy is a brilliant talent.

The taste of success in a Grand Tour was inevitable and now that Cavendish has stood on the victory dais, this could be the start of a long and distinguished career.

Where to now for McEwen - should he be disregarded as a has-been?

That would be most unfair!

I'm not brave enough to dismiss a man who has done more to promote Australian cycling than any other rider.
McEwen remains the most recognised personality in world cycling and continues to win the stakes as the most popular sportsman of his adopted Belgium - even though he's a born-and-bred Queenslander.

To be fair McEwen's Giro so far has been riddled with bad luck.

He was boxed against the barriers when attempting to catch Daniele Bennati and Erik Zabel in the stage 3 sprint in Milazzo.

Today, he contested the final kilometres without the help of a lead-out from a Silence-Lotto teammate.

McEwen uncharacteristically opted to keep a low profile by hanging off the last wheel when the whips started cracking.

He never got going when Cavendish edged past Bennati to claim the sprint honours.

Five weeks shy of his 36th birthday has age suddenly become an issue for Robbie?

It was around the same age when Mario Cipollini's body started shutting down as did Erik Zabel, although the great German is still as competitive as ever without winning sprints on a regujlar basis.

Might be best to leave that argument for another day.

For now the score so far is CAVENDISH 1 - McEWEN 0.

I'm sure Robbie is already forming a plan on exacting revenge over cycling's newest punk before the Giro is out.