By Shane Stokes in Palermo
Sidelined for quite some time due to a back problem (which later turned out to be caused by a cyst in his knee), Australian rider Brad McGee and his CSC squad went frustratingly close to taking victory on Saturday's opening stage of the Giro d'Italia. They finished six seconds behind winners Slipstream Chipotle H30 in the 23.6 kilometre test, but McGee was nevertheless able to look on the bright side.
"They are never easy, those team time trials," he told Cyclingnews. "Time trialing is hard enough by yourself but you have got to think about eight team-mates out there. A circuit like that is very technical and thus very demanding too, both physically and mentally.
"We are happy with our ride. We are never happy to get second place, of course, but everyone is quite confident that we got the maximum out of ourselves today and that is all you can ask for. Okay, maybe we could have saved a little on a corner here or an exit there, but what does that mean? It [a team time trial] is the whole package, and that was us today."
McGee has been on the road to recovery ever since that knee cyst was discovered and drained. He said that things are very solid now. "I feel awesome, really great. I'm delivering some nice power and recovering well. It has all gone just fine."
Four years ago he was eighth in the Giro d'Italia. When asked about his goals this time round, he speaks cautiously. He's got two reasons for that; the tough nature of the course, and the fact that he's missed out on training and racing due to his injury.
"Look, it is a crazy Giro," he said. "If you look at the parcours, I think it is one of the hardest that has ever been around. People don't realise how demanding this first week is going to be, let alone the last week.
"It is also going to be a very hard race tactically, as regards where do you put the power down...you don't want to be caught out on any of these days, because if you do it is all over. I am not here for GC, let me say that. But I do want to be up there on particular days, time trials and a few blokes might want a hand towards the end of the race for GC."
A solid Giro might be expected to lead on towards a good Tour de France, but McGee plays down any speculation about the French race. In fact, he's unlikely to be there this year.
"I don't think so, nothing has been set in concrete as regards riding the Tour," he said. "But at the moment I haven't got it marked in my diary. We will see how the Giro goes first.
"But for me, the Olympics is the number one goal. I'll be doing the two pursuits on the track, rather than trying to do the road time trial. After that, because I will have such a break from road racing, it will take me a couple of weeks to get back into it after the Olympics. But then I can't see why I wouldn't take on the complete rest of the season. Maybe the Vuelta and the Worlds."