By Greg Johnson in Adelaide, Australia
Former Australian Road Champion David McKenzie was one of hundreds of riders to tackle the classified Echunga climb in stage two of the Tour Down Under today. The Giro d'Italia stage winner, basking in the glorious conditions around Adelaide, said he's please to see the South Australian community getting behind its addition to the ProTour calendar.
"It's great to see so many people out, South Australia is really getting behind this event," said the 33 year-old. "The era we are going through now and the talent we have, I wish I could have my time again."
During an eight-year career, spanning from 1997 to 2005, McKenzie claimed five Herald Sun Tour stage victories and a stage victory at Asian races Tour de Langkawi and Tour of Qinghai Lake. In addition to his 1998 Australian Championship win, the rider also took victory in stage 6 of the Tour Down Under in 2001.
"To think we're [Australia] ranked third in the world and there's so much more to come, it's amazing," he said.
McKenzie added that he was delighted to see Australia's Mark Renshaw (Crédit Agricole) take his first ProTour stage win on the first ProTour stage outside of European boarders yesterday. "It was amazing," said McKenzie. "He had the perfect spot."
Despite being pleased with the success of Australian cycling and the Tour Down Under, McKenzie did have one gripe. "I think I just lost the points," he joked while addressing the thousands waiting at stage two's king of the mountain sprint.