Reported by John Trevorrow in Reggio Calabria
Cyclingnews was stationed on the finish line in Reggio Calabria and we spoke to the Australian riders as they came in:
Brett Lancaster (Panaria, 1st)
We spoke to Lancaster just after he had crossed the line with the new best time. "Yeah it was pretty good," he said in his dry, laconic drawl. "I might have to wait a while, there may be a few going a bit quicker." We asked him about his gear selection, and he explained, "I had the 15 from the start, then I clicked it down a bit. I don't really know what I went to. Felt good though."
Unlike his compatriot Stuart O'Grady, Lancaster didn't use a single speed bike. "I did give it a bit of thought, but it was a bit hard," he said. "This bike's pretty good. I started full on, made tempo in the middle, and brought it home."
Afterwards, Lancaster was blown away by what he'd done when we spoke to him. "It's pretty incredible," he said. "I don't think it's hit home yet. It was very nervous waiting for the last half a dozen riders to go. With those last few off, there were some really good riders, especially O'Grady. It just shows that now I'm full on road racing and left the track behind, I've had some good results this year. No wins, but this is a pretty good one to start with."
On his chances of retaining the jersey in tomorrow's stage, Lancaster replied, "I was just talking to a few of the guys and they reckon it might not even be a sprint finish. I'll just see what I can do."
Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis, 6th)
"It was tough out there. I didn't feel real comfortable. It was heavy at the start."
O'Grady was the only rider to use a single speed bike, and chose a 53x14. Did the gamble pay off? "We'll never know I suppose," he replied.
Mark Renshaw (Francaise des Jeux, 8th
"I just never got the gear going. It's been a long time since I've done one of these. I just didn't have the punch tonight."
We noted that Mark was only a couple of seconds off the pace in 8th. "Yeah, but there's a lot of guys around there."
Brad Wiggins (Credit Agricole, 11th
"One kilometre is just a bit short for me. But I'm pleased with that ride. I was hoping for a top five. that was my objective. But I thought Renshaw and Lancaster would go a bit quicker than me. They're explosive guys."
Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto, 17th)
Robbie McEwen was not happy with his ride of 1'24, which placed him 17th in the prologue. "The wind was tough. I got on the start line and just before I went I felt it blow up. It just felt like it was a bit stronger when I took off. I'm relatively happy with my ride. We'll just see what's going to happen in the next week."
Matt White (Cofidis, 86th)
"I had a few weeks preparing for it. I haven't been in this part of Italy since 2000. I'm really looking forward to this tour. I'm happy with the ride. It's going to be a great couple of weeks. And I'm really looking forward to the Tour de France...finally."
Rory Sutherland (Rabobank, 116th)
"I'm pleased to be in my first grand tour. I wasn't sure what to do, but I ended up riding the 14. It didn't feel too bad. I want to finish this tour, and do a good job for Rabobank. I'm excited about the weeks ahead."
Henk Vogels (Davitamon-Lotto, 138th)
"That bloody hurt. I'm rapt to be back into the big time though, and had a good classics season. I'm really looking forward to doing the job for Robbie and Steels. I rode the 14 [cog at the back], and it was hard. But I felt OK."
Matt Wilson (Francaise des Jeux, 178th)
."It was bloody hard. Baden [Cooke]'s in good form, so I'm looking forward to it. I think we'll have a good one." [Baden was too fast for us to grab him today! - ed.]
Russell Van Hout (Colombia-Selle Italia, 179th)
"I was hoping to do a lot quicker I lactated badly early on. I had too big a gear and couldn't go back. It was about as hard as a kilometre could be. My biggest problem is that I've only done four races since Langkawi. All in all, I'm underdone but I reckon I can get myself into good form by the real TT."
Nick Gates (Davitamon-Lotto, 195th)
Nick Gates looked as though he'd ridden round the block when we spoke to him moments after he crossed the line. "What's the point in going flat out here mate? We'll wait until later in the week. Robbie's going really well. He should be up there winning stages."
Trent Wilson (Colombia-Selle Italia, 197th)
"I didn't think it'd be slow as that. I felt as though I warmed up well. I was on a small gear, but by the time I finished, I was lactating in my arms, legs and earlobes. It really hurt."