Gabriele Balducci of Acqua & Sapone leads a rowsing round of the Macarena.
We’ve spent three days in that Peugeot; we need to talk to somebody! At the start of stage three we connected with some old friends and made some new ones. Brett Lancaster (Milram & Australia) Olympic team pursuit champion, 2005 Giro maglia rosa holder and key locomotive in the Ale Jet Express.
Brett Lancaster (Milram)
Pez: How’s Milram, Brett, compared to your team of last year, Panaria?
Brett: Well, it’s a Pro Tour team so it’s more professional, more staff, more resources. The bikes are the same, Colnago – but it’s the Extreme Power model, if you’re a big guy like me you really notice the difference, it’s very rigid.
Pez: Ale is obviously the focus of the team but do you get much chance to ride for yourself?
Brett: Yeah, sure, I’ve only done Valencia and the Giro with Ale this year. I rode Romandie for myself, I was seventh in the prologue, that climb to the finish wasn’t really my type of thing. I also rode the Classics for the first time, something I never got the chance to do with Panaria. I rode De Panne, Flanders and Roubaix; I know what to expect now and I’ll be back for more.
There’s a gorgeous window box right outside the car.
Pez: How was the stage one, TTT for Milram?
Brett: We finished eight riders together out of nine, I think we were the only squad to do that so it shows the team is solid.
Pez: That was a tough parcours yesterday.
Brett: Yeah, it hurt a lot of the chunkier sprinters, like Napolitano – even though we rode the climb tempo. We only lost a couple of guys and had a good train going for Ale at the finish.
Pez: How does Ale handle the constant pressure and expectation?
Brett: He’s a great athlete and all that stuff comes with the job, he’ll win stages in this Giro, no question. Yesterday’s finish was made for McEwen, despite us having a good train going there was just a short straight out of that last corner and he has the explosive power to capitalize on a situation like that. Ale was revved-out yesterday too, he couldn’t get the eleven and was sprinting in the twelve.
Pez: What would make it a good Giro for you?
Brett: When I was a little kid, I used to dream about being Olympic champion, then I dreamed about being a lead-out man on a Pro Tour team, here I am – I’m living my dream. I just want to do my job for the team – and maybe slip-away in the last kilometre somewhere if I get the chance!
Charly Wegelius (Liquigas & GB) – Key member of maglia rosa, Di Luca’s squadra.
Pez: A good start for Liquigas, Charly
Charly: Yeah, we’re pleased.
Pez: Tell us about your win in the TTT.
Charly: We rode the course twice before the race and the game-plan was to get to the last hill with as many guys left as possible; in case we lost guys on the climb or in a crash on the descent. People forget that a TTT is harder than an individual TT, you have ride at the speed of the fastest guy, not just your own speed, but you still have to finish with five. Alessandro Vanotti is very strong and he did a lot of the riding before the last climb. We had six over the last climb so that was OK.
Liquigas leader Di Luca: no hard feelings.
Pez: Danilo seemed a bit miffed at Gasparotto for winning the sprint.
Charly: What you have to remember, is that swear words in the heat of a race don’t count; your heart is beating at 180, the DS is screaming in your ear-piece and there’s the noise of the fans. There was a lot at stake yesterday and when you are in a race situation it’s not like you are making clinical decisions: anything said in the heat of the moment in a race situation is forgotten after the race. These things get blown-up by the newspapers and the media – they need something to write about.
The secret to a nation of cycling fans – start ‘em young.
Pez: That was a hard stage yesterday.
Charly: Yes, very hard, you drove it so you know what was involved, but a lot of commentators would just say; “an easy stage because McEwen won it.” But if you were aware of the parcours, you couldn’t help but be impressed by what a superb athlete Robbie really is, producing a sprint like that after a stage as hard as that.
While Ed sweats about the ferry for today’s transfer, our driver Dave enjoys the Italian funnies and a cold one.