By Les Clarke in Seraing
Cyclingnews spoke to Phonak's other American, Jon McCarty, at the start in Seraing, who was pleased to be at his first Grand Tour. "It's my first grand tour and I'm just happy to be here," he said. "I think in a few days we'll be able to go for stage win."
With names such as Axel Merckx and Victor Hugo Pena in the Phonak lineup, McCarty added that "we've got a good experienced team here and the teamwork is good." The American competed on home turf at the Tour of California in February, where compatriot Floyd Landis won the overall title, and he believes that the foundations laid during that race will serve the team well in terms of team work at the Giro.
Australian Mathew Hayman is currently recovering from a stack in last Monday's Rund um den Henninger Turm, didn't seem to be suffering any effects before today's prologue. However, he was still being cautious: "I'm a little worried about my knee, but hopefully in a couple of days I'll feel good and have a go," he said.
With the climbers set to dominate this year's Giro, Hayman knows the chances for a stage win are limited. "It's an increasing thing that a lot of the stages are controlled by the leading teams, so we have limited stages to have a go."
In terms of favourites for the three weeks, Hayman said "CSC and Discovery are pretty big favourites - Discovery have brought a different team and it looks pretty strong." But the 'Aussie diesel' also added: "I think you'll see a few surprises."
Like his countryman, Saunier Duval-Prodir's Aaron Olson is another American who is riding his first Grand Tour, and the rookie was genuinely excited to be starting the Giro on Saturday: "It's definitely great to be here," he said with enthusiasm to Cyclingnews. "It's a big organisation; being at the Giro is amazing - it's a dream come true!"
Riding on the team of pre-race favourite Gilberto Simoni puts Olson in the special position of riding for one the Giro's strongest riders, saying that "everyone is very motivated. We checked out the team time trial course the other day and it looks good. Gilberto's looking fit and we're sure he'll do well."