Blink and you might just miss legendary Gold Coast cyclist Robbie McEwen.
The sprint cyclist, arguably the world's fastest on the road at his peak, earned the nickname “Rocket Robbie” in an illustrious career that saw him win three Tour de France green jerseys (leading sprint points scorer), 12 Le Tour stage wins and 12 Giro d'Italia stage wins.
He represented Australia at Olympic Games and was Australian road champion twice.
Robbie was born in Brisbane and grew up in Logan, nestled between the state capital and the Gold Coast. He was an Australian BMX champion before switching to road racing at age 18.
Robbie contested the world road cycling tour for a staggering 17 years from 1996 to 2012.
Now retired, Robbie lives at laid-back Nobbys Beach on the Gold Coast with his Belgian wife Angélique Pattyn, his son Ewan and his daughters Elena and Claudia.
He won't be competing at next year's Games but had an input into the road cycling and time trial tracks mapped out at Currumbin and will be in a television network commentary box for the road, track and mountain bike events.
As the countdown clock reaches One Year to Go (April 4, 2017) to the biggest sporting event in Australia this decade, Robbie says to have the 2018 Commonwealth Games in his hometown is very special.
“This is an opportunity to show the world that the Gold Coast can host major sporting events,” Robbie says.
“And from a personal perspective, as someone who grew up in Queensland living and breathing sport, I am just so proud and excited by the prospect of having some of the world's best athletes across 18 sports and seven para sports competing in my backyard.”
Although Robbie still likes to keep fit by cycling along the Gold Coast's 35km of beachfront and up into the spectacular lush Hinterland, his special place is very close to home – his Piccolo Espresso café at Miami Surf Lifesaving Club – ranked among the region's top coffee hotspots and with ocean views to match the amazing mocha.
There's rarely a day when the still full-of-beans champ is not at the cafe to ensure guests get some star power with their daily dose of java.
“Piccolo Espresso consistently delivers fantastic coffee with fantastic views in a relaxed local vibe that reflects exactly what the Gold Coast is about,” Robbie says.
And the views could get even better come Games time.
If the GC marathon follows the same course as the annual Gold Coast Airport Marathon – as many expect it will – that will see Games' longest event (men, women and para marathons are all run simultaneously) go right past the Hythe Street corner location of Café Piccolo Espresso.
You couldn't blame any of the competitors if they took a quick break from their 42km journey to grab a cup of jo and have a quick chat to a fellow champion.
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Author: Geoff Stead
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