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The Scott Sunderland Diary 2000
Some time out in summer, June 15-July 1
It has been a while since I wrote a few words...actually over a month, time really flies this year. So, here we are, supposedly in European summer, with all the new national champions showing off their country's colours, and we have started the countdown to the Tour de France.
The last couple of weeks have been rather quiet for me. Just before my mid-season break I rode a few smaller races in which the team did really well. We won Brussels-Ingooigem, De Panne, De Haan. Now, I am preparing my training camp in the Belgian Ardennes (the parcours of Liege-Bastogne-Liege). I planned on going to Livigno for a couple of weeks training with the Australian under-23 team first, but other engagements demanded that I stay at call here in Belgium.
In Belgium, contract negotiations have started early this year because of the arrival of the new DOMO-International team. The atmosphere here is buzzing with transfers, names and figures. It is nice to see I still have kept my value on the market, even though my start of the season suffered from a false note played in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. I am really sorry that crash kept me out of competition for 5 weeks.
My ride in Flanders has made sure though that I got in the picture enough to be measured the right weight and size. The flu I picked up afterwards put another line through my race calculations and just as I started to get back into racing condition, our team had no more races planned...
Main thing is, I feel good on the bike. Although the weather could be a lot better, it is still nice to cruise around the Flemish countryside in a bit of a holiday mode. As most of my other training partners are off to the Tour, I'll be enjoying training in the company of Peter Van Petegem, Mario De Clercq and Eric De Clercq. My friend Gunter, a local police motorcyclist, will be running red lights with me on the Piaggio during the month of July. I will be doing 75 -100 kilometre rides behind the motorbike to keep the race speed in the legs.
Evenings are filled with European Cup soccer. As I am writing this Holland has just missed a penalty shot...unbelievable. Italy goes on to play France in the final. Holland is hurting badly.... in front of a hundred thousand people, I'd be looking for a hole to crawl in too.
My first race back is the 11th of July...just in time to make it for the Olympic Selection!?
Have a great time following the Tour, we'll have it live on tele every day for the next three weeks!
Training in the Belgian Ardennes, July 3-7
I must say I'd rather be riding my heart out in the Tour de France, hitting the deck every night because I'm simply exhausted, than trying to get enough kilometers in, in the pouring rain, like I am now. Hammering yourself, by yourself, in training, every single day, just isn't the same. The weather is simply awful here in Belgium and the forecasts don't predict any sun coming our way either.
I have been training hard. I made my schedule before we left for the Ardennes and I am sticking to it, so far...I picked a hotel close to the Côte de Wanne - on the parcours of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. It's great to ride these climbs in your own tempo and not at race speed. You don't take in the scenery while racing, you just fly through it and don't have the time to enjoy the magnificent views of valleys and forests. Even in the rain it all looks impressive enough to make you aware of your own small part in the whole scheme of things... Loneliness is beautiful too sometimes.
My wife Sabine and son Saën are following me at short distance in the car. Sabine can't believe how dangerous it is to be out on the road by yourself in the rain. The big trucks pass and just soak you with dirty water splashing up from underneath their wheels and the other drivers seem to be concentrating that much on the road that they hardly notice you.... dangerous situations alright.
My mornings are filled with training and the afternoons with resting, watching the Tour on television, having coffee in the bar and keeping my son Saën busy; walking in the woods surrounding our hotel and playing in the indoor pool.... Luckily we bought him a Game Boy last week, expecting the bad weather conditions, he's been giving that a work out!!
Since the team does not start racing officialy again untill the 14th of this month, it is necessary to keep the head right. Especially in this kind of weather it is hard to stay focused. The dinners in this hotel (Hotel des Hautes Fagnes **** Robertville) have been fantastic and we spend a couple of hours enjoying the skills of the cook every evening....the glass of wine to go with it puts me in a relaxed frame of mind and I keep the same sleeping times as my four year old.
My program for the coming weeks will include Grand Prix Rick Van Steenberghen, Tour of Castilla-Leon (Spain), Tour of Burgos (Spain) and Tour of Holland which wraps up the month of August. I'm looking forward to the competition, didn't get much of it in the first half of this year because of the crash in Kuurne. The sun in Spain must be one of the factors I'm anticipating the most right now...
Stay well and keep safe,