Big Bird Lancaster soars to Giro prologue win

Italian poet, daredevil and WWI hero Gabriele D'Annunzio called the Lungomare Italo Falcomata' in Reggio Calabria "the most beautiful kilometre in Italy". For the thousands of spectators who came to see the evening's 1.15km prologue on the Lungomare along the Straits of Messina, with the looming profile of Monte Etna across the Straits in Sicily disappearing in the twilight, the bright lights and spectacle of the 88th Giro, the road along the front in Reggio Calabria offered a beautiful, festive atmosphere. But for the 197 riders who took the start at 18:45, the most beautiful kilometre was a difficult way to start the first ever Grand Tour of the ProTour. Planned for prime-time TV in Italy, the best riders went off after 21:30 under the floodlights and the palm trees along the seafront in Reggio Calabria.

For the second year in a row, an Australian kangaroo leaped into the Maglia Rosa at the Giro d'Italia prologue, as two-time world champion and reigning Olympic team pursuit champion Brett Lancaster (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare) powered home to victory in the 1.15km drag race prologue for his third win as a professional cyclist. Nicknamed "Big Bird" and of course "Burt", Lancaster was the only rider to go under 1'21, and the superb ride by the 25 year-old speed merchant from Shepparton, Victoria, near Melbourne, was ridden at an average speed of 51.75 km/h. Lancaster finished just 29 hundredths of a second ahead of Fassa Bortolo rider Matteo Tosatto, with Alessandro Petacchi rounding out the Giro d'Italia prologue podium in third, only 72 hundredths behind Lancaster.

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