The Jay Sweet Diary 1998

March 18 - April 13, 1998

The Local East Coast Australian Time is


  1. March 18, 1998 - Paris-Nice
  2. March 23, 1998 - Cholet-Pays de Loire
  3. March 25, 1998 - Dwars door Belgie
  4. March 30, 1998 - Criterium International
  5. April 5, 1998 - GP Rennes
  6. April 13, 1998 - GP Pino Cerami
  7. April 21-May 22, 1998
  8. June 12-July 3, 1998

April 13, 1998 - GP Pino Cerami, 200 kms:

Hey Bill,
How's it going? I'm good. I've just finished watching Paris-Roubaix on T.V. and I'm sort of glad I wasn't riding, it didn't look like much fun. Anyway I raced Pino Cerami on Friday and this how it went. Pino Cerami. 200km.

After spending half the night in the soigneurs room trying to get rid of a severe case of heart burn, I wasn't really motivated to race. It was only two days before Paris-Roubaix so I didn't want to be too tired either. It was a typical Belgium day, cold, wet and windy. For the first 30km I didn't really move from the middle of the peloton. Then I started to get a bit motivated and moved up to the front. It didn't take long for me to get excited and before I knew it I was following moves and getting into breaks. Lots of attacks were happening all day but nothing was going away. Around the 100km mark Scott Sunderland started to go with some moves and going by his present form (11th in Tour of Flanders and Gent Wevelgem) I decided to follow him. We got into a break but it only lasted for about 10km. The race finished on a 15km circuit which had 2 nasty little climbs on it. I stayed with the bunch for the first lap but was dropped on the 2nd. I managed to get back on again but my legs were running out of gas. The bunch had reduced itself to about 60 riders and there was a small group of 8 off the front. When I got dropped on the next climb I just finished the lap and went straight to the showers. As it turned out Scott was in the front group and finished 3rd. As a result of my sickness the night before and my lack of power I was awarded a couple of days off (instead of Roubaix ) before I start to prepare for a heavy month of racing in May.

May is an important month for my team because it is selection time for the tour, so we need some good results. I will be riding 4 days of Dunkerque, Tour de l'Oise, a tour in Spain and the Tour of England. Hopefully my first win for the year will be at one of these races.

My house mate and old team mate Jens Voigt (Gan) won his first race for the year, the 5th stage of Pays Basque in Spain. Also my younger brother Corey won his first race for the year in the Tour of Wellington (NZ) and for those that don't know him he is not a sprinter but he also finished 3rd in stage which was a bunch sprint.

That's all for now. See you soon.

April 5, 1998 - GP Rennes, 200 kms:

I wasn't sure how my form was going to be for this race after Crit Int. I had a really good training day last Wednesday, there was 6 of us. Stuart, Henk, Fred Moncassin, Stephane Barthe, Laurent Roux and myself. We did 250km (7.5hrs ) in the Pyrenees.

G.P. Rennes was a flat race. It's a 13km circuit around the streets of Rennes. It was raining at the start which made things dangerous, lots of wet corners are never fun in the bunch. I went to the front of the bunch in the neutral section prepared for a fast start. I wasn't disappointed, an attack went from the gun. The peloton was creeping around the wet corners which made it easier for the break to go clear. I managed to get in the break of about 12 riders including another Aussie Marcel Gono. I was feeling really good but the break decided to stop so I counterattacked hoping for a couple of riders to come with me. I was taking all sorts of risks around the corners and only one other rider was crazy enough to go with me, cosidering there was still 190km to go. We held the peloton at 1:30 min for about 100 km which was quite an effort because Festina was chasing us the whole time.

After we got caught I was feeling a bit tired, 2 laps later the attacks started again and a small group went off the front. They had about 15 seconds to another small group which had just gone off the front. I managed to be in the second group but it sat up at the bottom of a small hill so I jumped across to the front group. This was a group of 8 riders which had 3 Italians, 2 Casino, 2 Big Mat and a rider from Mutuelle de Seine et Marne. This break went out to 2 mins and I knew this was going to stay away. My team were stoked that I was in the break, a good chance for a win but I knew the other riders wouldn't leave it to a sprint. I was right, the attacks started with about 10km to go. I was really tired now and I'd been getting worked over for the last 20km so I was praying that I coud stay with the bunch. The last attack was at the 4km to go, up a small drag and I was dropped. When the others saw I was off the back they continued to attack to make sure I didn't get back on. I ended up finishing 7th and my team mate was 3rd. I was happy with my race and maybe things couldv'e been different if I wasn't so tired from the first break but that's bike racing.

Well I haven't got a story for you today but I'm sure there will be one next Monday. Paris-Roubaix is on Sunday and I'll be making my first appearence in the "Hell of the North".


March 30, 1998 - Watching the Criterium International

Jay is currently sick from gastroenteritis and Big Mat has given him a rest after a pretty hectic start to the season. Here is his view of the Crit Int from the sidelines after a shaky start in Stage 1.

It was a pretty windy day. The profile of stage one looked reletively flat but in actual fact it was up and down all day and with the wind it made the stage quite difficult. I went over the first couple of climbs just in the bunch but feeling quite average. After about the 50km mark I started to get stomach cramps. I didn't think much of it and kept going. Not long after I thought someone had put some laxative's in my breakfast. The cramps in my stomach were so painful it felt like someone was sticking a knife in my stomach. It was so bad I could hardly pedal, I was trying so hard to make it to the toilet before I ... well you know!

Anyway just before the feed zone my director came up to me in the car and told me to abandon. I was going to anyway but it's better when your told to. I got to the feed zone and my soigneur (masseur) was standing in the middle of the road waving at me so I could see him amongst the crowd. Everyone was watching me as I was screaming out "toilet paper", "toilet paper" and when I reached the team car I jumped off my bike and in mid air, grabbed the paper roll and landed in the bushes just in time.

Because the race wasn't far from Toulouse I was home just in time to see fellow Aussie rider Stuart O'Grady, on the news finish 2nd to Emanuel Mangien (La Francaise de Jeux) who just finished 2nd in Milan-San Remo. Stuey has had his share of 2nd's and 3rd's this year. It wont be long before he wins a big one.

Day 2, I was watching the race from the couch in my lounge room. The morning stage was 80km in the mountains, they didn't show much on the TV but the afternoon stage was an 8km time trial. Another Aussie was amongst the results today. Henk Vogels finished 6th in what looked like a really hard time trial. Watch out for him in the Classics

Well once again there's a story to tell, not a nice one but that's life. Bye for now.


March 25, 1998 - Dwars door Belgie aftermath

Hey Bill what's going on in OZ. I hear there's a bit of trouble with the trackies? Anyway here's my view on a race I just did in Belgium.

A Travers la Belgique - 203km

I was glad that the weather was good for this race. It was a little bit cold in the morning but the sun was shining and it was only a matter of time before it started to warm up. I had a relaxed approach for this race. Before the start in the team meeting my director Pascal Dubois told me to take it easy. Since Paris-Nice I have been feeling a bit tired also I have another race on Saturday, Criterium International and it's not a big crit either. Saturday's stage is normally a bunch kick and Sunday has 2 stages, the stage in the morning is 90km in the hills and the afternoon is an 8km time trial. It is an important race for the team and they want me fresh for the 1st stage.

For the 1st 80km the bunch just cruised along because it was a head wind. 10km before the 1st cobbled climb the pace picked up and suddenly it was like a bunch sprint. Everyone was fighting for a position at the front. I decided to sit towards the back, the last thing I want is to have a crash. I went over the 1st couple of climbs just in the group which was loosing riders as each climb went by. By the 5th climb I found myself up the front and feeling good. I stayed there over the next 2 climbs reminding myself not to go to hard, to stay fresh. Then there was an attack by Danny Nelissen and I was on his wheel. It was up a climb and I was feeling good. A small group of about 10 had formed on this hill, the pace died as no-one wanted to enforce it so I decided to counter attack. Here I was, a sprinter attacking on a climb. Well I didn't get too far before the group reeled me back and then it all bunched up again. I went over the next 2 cobbled climbs just in the bunch but the lactic acid was starting to build up in my legs so it was time to settle down and just get to the finish. With 3 cobbled climbs to go and 30km I started to think about Saturday. On the next climb the bunch smashed over it and I was left behind. After that I just put it in a nice small gear and rode to the finish.

As you may have read before about how I said that everytime I race there is a story to tell, well I won't let you down. On my way to the finish some how I managed to take a wrong turn somewhere. Here I was riding along in some town somewhere in Belgium, there were no spectators, no signs, no police and no other riders. Just as I was about to stop and turn around 2 veteran cyclists caught up with me. I asked in English if they knew where the finish line was. They jibbered something in Flemmish and waved at me to follow them. They were so excited to be riding with one of the racers that they swapped off so hard I thought they were going to drop me. I wondered if it would've been better to stay in the race. Anyway I made it to the finish and survived another race.

Stay tuned to see how I go on Saturday and keep your fingers crossed. Bye for now.


March 23, 1998 - Cholet-Pays de Loire aftermath

Hey Bill,

How's it going? I'm good I just finished a race and am now in a hotel in Paris on my way to another. Here's my run down of the race.

Cholet pays de Loire - 202km

It's been 1 week since Paris-Nice and I still don't feel as if I've recovered. I didn't get much training done last week mainly because I was too busy sleeping and watching videos. I enjoyed having a week of recovery without feeling guilty but now it's back to business. I rode Cholet last year with the Giant A.I.S. team and I still remember the first climb like it was yesterday.

The weather was better than last year, it was a bit chilly but the sun was shining and not a cloud in sight. The wind was getting stronger by the minute so that was going to play it's part in the race. The bunch was nervous at the start. There were 10 sprints on 10 climbs, the 1st sprint/climb was at 13km. I made sure I was at the front just in case it split over the top, I didn't want to be chasing from the start. I went over in the top 20 and felt average. It was a block head wind for the 1st 40km so that stopped any attacks. As each climb passed I was getting better or everyone else was getting worse. After the halfway mark I was still up the front and I must have looked good because my team mates said that if I'm still in the bunch after the last climb they will ride on the front for me.

An attack went up the 7th climb and I happened to be on one of the guys who went with it. Over the top we had a small gap but it blew out to 45 seconds over the top because of the cross winds. The group had about 15 riders in it and 2 of them were from my team. The break got caught about 10km later, just before the 9th climb but then split again over the top of that climb. I managed to make that break as well. This time it was a bigger group, maybe 25-30 riders. We had 3 guys in it, Pascal Lino, Alexi Sivacov and myself. I was feeling a bit tired now, actually I was on my last legs and was praying that I would make it over the last K.O.M. I knew it was a good hill for an attack and anyone who didn't want it to be a group sprint would go then. I was right, the winning break of 6 riders went on the last climb and we had 1 guy in it, Lino. Alexi and myself shut down the break and went with anything that moved. The chasing group caught us just before the finishing circuit. It was 3 laps of a 5km circuit and finished on a nasty little hill. I was going with the breaks on the circuit hoping for a good minor placing but the days racing caught up with me and I was dropped from the front group on the last lap. Lino finished 2nd so that was a good result for the team.

Wednesday I start a one day race in Belgium. [Bill notes: Dwars door Belgium]... Should be interesting so I'll let you know what happens.

Bye for now

March 18, 1998 - Paris-Nice aftermath

Hey Bill,

How's it going? I'm good, I'm now back in Toulouse recovering from the tour. It was an interesting tour. We experienced all types of weather and terrain.

The prolouge for me was pretty straight forward, I just had to finish it within the time cut. It rained from start to finish for me and there was a nasty climb just after the start but I had no problems.

The first stage was pretty hard. It was relatively flat but there were strong winds and the bunch split into many groups. It seems that everytime I race there is always a story to tell afterwards. I was actually dropped from the 3rd group with 1 Banesto rider while we were chasing the other 2 groups in front. We chased the 3rd group for 20km. About 5km after we rejoined with the 3rd group, we caught the 2nd group which had caught the 1st group. So after a whole day of chasing finally the peloton is back together. We had 1 lap of the 25km finish circuit to go, which happened to finish on a steep little 2km climb. I think I was in the main peloton for about 4km before hitting the last climb. The bunch split again and I found myself with the same guys I had been with all day. I spent the whole day chasing groups. Not a good start.

Stage 2 was also pretty straightforward. Mapei swapped off all day and prepared the bunch sprint for Tom Steels. It was really hairy at the finish and I was pushed and shoved into the last corner and had to brake. I found myself about 20th postion with 500m to go so I thought "What the hell" and started sprinting. I made it to 4th position with 200m to go and that's where I stayed. I was happy with my sprint but not with my positioning.

The next stage it rained for 195km and was about 5 degrees. Mapei swapped off all day and I was dropped on the last climb. I saw later that night on the news that fellow Aussie Stuart O'Grady was away before the finish, got caught and still ran 3rd in the bunch sprint. Another great result for him this year.

I couldn't believe it when it was snowing on the 5th stage and the organization cut 40km off the stage. I was very very thankful for that because my legs don't operate very well in the cold and it just so happens that the 40km that they cut was the first climb for the day. The stage finished on the Col de la Republique and it was snowing at the top. I just did all I needed to do to finish within the time limit.

The next stage (stage 6), I thought I was a climber and tried to go with the front guys. I had a really good day and went over the Col de l'Homme Mort just behind the 2nd group. I was unable to rejoin with the two groups in front so I just finished with the 3rd group, happy to survive another day.

Stage 7 was the longest for the tour, 223km with at least 6 major climbs. I was riding with fellow Aussies Henk Vogels and Stuart O'Grady at the start and the whole bunch was content to piano but there is always one exception. This exception just happened to be Stuey. With a bit of encouragement from myself and Henk, Stuey attacked after the 30km mark with just under 200km to go. At first I thought it was funny but then Mapei, and Saeco got on the front and drove for the rest of the day. I must admit that I paid very dearly for trying to go with the leaders in the previous stage. Stage 7 was the longest day in my whole cycling career. I sat dead last wheel for 170km and was off and on the back of the bunch all day. I was a human yo-yo!

The thought of the last stage had kept me inspired for the last couple of days. I was still confident after last Tuesday's sprint and I wanted another chance at a win. My legs were so sore the night before the last stage, I wasn't sure I would be able to stay with the bunch when they started to wind up for the sprint. Luckly everyone else felt the same because if they had raced hard for the first 60km it could've been really nasty. The last stage went over 2 climbs then decended into Nice onto a 9km circuit. It was right on the beach front, dead flat, big, fast, open road. Perfect for me. Even the weather was great. The speed of the bunch got faster and faster as each lap went on. The last 3 laps was like the last kilometre. It was a pretty hectic sprint but my team mates managed to get on the front right at 1km to go. I was on Tom Steels' wheel in 4th position. When it was time to come off it I only managed to get along side of him before the 11 cog got the better of me and I slowly slipped back into 3rd place.

Overall I'm really happy with my results, it's my first Paris-Nice and I managed to finish it with 2 top 5 places. Now I know what to expect next year but there are still a lot of races to go this year so keep your eyes and ears open for my name because I'm not finished yet.

Bye for now.