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Lancaster ends drought in Germany

By Susan Westemeyer

It's been a long time between wins for Milram's Brett Lancaster – more than three years to be exact – but the drought ended Friday for the Australian in the prologue of the Deutschland Tour. His last victory came in May 2005, while he was wearing the jersey of Ceramica Panaria – Navigare. Then, he thundered his way through the 1,150 meter prologue of the Giro d'Italia, winning it by 29-hundredths of a second to take the pink leader's jersey. More than three years later, he repeated that effort, winning the opening prologue of the Deutschland Tour by one-tenth of a second.

"It was good to win again finally," he admitted to Cyclingnews Friday evening. "I had a little time off after the Olympics so I guess I was pretty fresh." He must have been, as he covered the 3.6km in only 3.59.85, but then again, winning the prologue "was definitely the plan."

The Australian, however, wasn't even supposed to ride this race. "I was originally down to to the Vuelta, and [directeur sportif] Vittorio [Algeri] called me three or four days ago and said there was a change of plans. With my track work, this was a better race for me, and with Milram being a German team, it was important to do well here. 'Come here and win that thing', he told me! And I am very, very happy," Lancaster said.

He is realistic enough to know that he won't defend the jersey Saturday in the race's Queen stage. "No, on that one. It will be nice to wear the yellow jersey tomorrow," but that is all the 28 year-old expected of the day. But he definitely plans to ride the Tour through to the end.

Looking further to the future, he said that he will stay with Milram and has re-signed for another two years. ""I decided during the Tour de France. I am really happy here, with a great group of guys." The last two years he enjoyed the "touch of Italy" within the team, since he lives in Italy, but he knows that will change in the coming season. "It's really working well with the Germans."

Lancaster came to Milram to lead out Alessandro Petacchi. who was dismissed by the team in May after the Court of Arbitration for Sports ruled that he would be suspended on doping charges. "After Petacchi left, I was really disappointed. I loved working with him. One of the best experiences of my life was leading for him in the Giro last year. But we have parted ways. That's life."

Petacchi's departure has made significant changes in the team. "Now there is more responsibility for everyone, and guys are using their chances, like Christian [Knees] winning in Bayern and Björn [Schröder] in the Regio Tour."

Things have changed for him, too. "I will still do that next year, leading out some sprinter, but I think I will change my main focus to specializing in prologues." And which sprinter will he be leading out, perhaps a famous young German sprinter who might come to the team? "I can't say right now," Lancaster answered, laughing. "That would be nice, but we'll have to wait and see."

See also Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Tour of Germany.