Canberra cyclist Michael Matthews has enjoyed a strong start to his Giro d'Italia campaign, helping Orica GreenEDGE teammate Simon Gerrans to the leader's pink jersey after the first-stage team time-trial.
Gerrans missed this season's European classics after breaking his collarbone and arm in separate falls. But he crossed the line first ahead of fellow Australians Matthews and Michael Hepburn as their team won the 17.6-kilometre time-trial on the Italian Riviera.
"I've had a difficult start to the season," admitted Gerrans, one of the only riders competing to have won stages of the three Grand Tours - Italy, France and Spain - but who had never worn the pink jersey before.
"I've had to rebuild from zero after my fall. I missed my first two objectives of the season, the Australian championships and the Tour Down Under, and then the Ardennes classics. I hope that my luck has changed," he said.
Gerrans broke a collarbone in December then crashed in his first race back in March, breaking his elbow, which did not heal as quickly as expected.
He also crashed twice in the space of 10 minutes as he attempted to defend his Liege-Bastogne-Liege title a fortnight ago.
Gerrans, who wore the Tour de France yellow jersey for two days in 2013, won a stage in his only previous appearance in the Italian race in 2009.
"We're very close to each other in the team," said Gerrans, who achieved one of his biggest wins in Italy at the 2012 Milan-San Remo classic.
"This jersey should be divided in nine. The objective now is to hold the pink jersey in the team," added Gerrans, who admitted his chances of overall victory were slim.
"In the sprints Michael Matthews is our best option. Then in the tough stages we'll see with Esteban Chaves," he explained.
Meanwhile, Canberra's Chloe Hosking has finally broken through for her first European win this season. After a string of near-misses, the Olympic and Commonwealth Games representative won the Marianne Vos Classic in the Netherlands.
Hosking outsprinted Vos at the end of the tough 121km race. The Australian started the year by winning the opening round of the Mitchelton Bay Classic series in Geelong and then taking out the overall title.
But until Saturday, Hosking's European campaign this season had featured two second placings and six other top-10 finishes.
"It's so nice to put my hands up in the air," the Wiggle-Honda sprinter said. "It's been so fantastic this year, the team's had so many wins, and I've been there for a lot of them but it hasn't been me.
"It's really, really nice to be on the top step."