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The Scott Sunderland Diary 2001

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Winning
Photo: ©BELGA

"It is not the critic that counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles. Or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement. And at worst, If he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

— President Theodore Roosevelt, "The Man in the Arena", Paris, 1910

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Diary Entries

 

True Blue

There's a term for people who embody the qualities of honesty, determination and hard work that Australians admire most: True Blue. To be a true blue Aussie it also doesn't hurt if you've had to struggle against the odds, and especially against unreasonable odds.

His friends call him 'True Blue' and if any of the current crop of Australian pros making a living in Europe deserve to be hailed this way, Cyclingnews diarist Scott Sunderland surely does.

Scott was born in Inverell, a country town in northern New South Wales. Inverell is in a silver and sapphire mining area, but the town's main economic engine is the beef industry. It's a cliché that in Australian country towns kids grow up tough but honest and not afraid of hard work, but it's certainly true of Scott who worked double shifts in the Inverell abattoirs to fund his early European racing career.

Scott is currently Australia's longest serving professional cyclist and has a depth of experience in racing that few in the European peloton can match. He has placed highly in many of the cycling world's greatest events, and is a well respected rider.

He has had more than his fair share of injuries and setbacks, the most memorable being when he was struck by a car driven by his former director, Cees Priem, during the 1998 Amstel Gold race. Although the ramifications of that are still being overcome, he has recovered and the last 18 months have seen a resurgent Scott Sunderland.

After that accident, Scott's doctors thought he might never ride again, and since returning to riding he has been, as his wife Sabine puts it "200 per cent focused." His win earlier this year in the GP Pino Cerami — one of his favourite races — showed that the old Sunderland strength is still there. And when things do go wrong, as in this year's Amstel Gold, he's philosophical. "That's bike racing."

Unusually, Scott's diaries are written from a range of perspectives. His wife Sabine steps in from time to time, as in this view from the 'women's room', and his friend, journalist Neil Storey, earns his room and board in the Sunderland household by helping out with insightful views from the roadside.

Scott says he intends to carry on for another three years, till 2004. He's enjoying helping the Fakta team develop and passing his knowledge along to younger riders, but he thinks by the time he hits 38, he'll "be done with it". Until that far-off day, we hope that you enjoy the regular updates of the man from Inverell and Zottegem.

Photo Gallery

First coaching session, Inverell
Club championship ribbons
NSW 50 km points score champion, 1985

Winning the 1986 Kooralbyn Classic
Riding for Lotto in the 1996 Tour de France
Teeth gritted in the 1996 Tour ITT
Riding the Paris-Nice for Gan in 1997
The 1997 Gan Anglophone posse
1997 Nokere
The final time trial in the 1999 Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic
2000: on the Mur of Geraardsbergen, Omloop Het Volk
Scott's official Team Fakta postcard
2001: Sweet victory in the GP Pino Cerami

Scott Sunderland
2001 Fakta jersey

Scott Sunderland

Born: November 29, 1966, Inverell, NSW, Australia
Lives: Zottegem, Belgium, with wife Sabine and son Saën
Team: Fakta
Height: 178 cm
Weight: 66 kgs
Club: St. George Cycling Club, Sydney

Biography

1973: Started racing at 7 years of age, as a member of a cycling family -- father and four brothers all raced
1982: Age 15. Competed in Australian Championships for the first time
1984: Age 17. Moved to Sydney (approx. 700km from hometown Inverell) to find work and further cycling career
1986: Age 19. First overseas trip to USA for two months. Upon returning I won the Australian Championships.
1987: Age 20. Moved to Europe and raced for the Swiss based Mazza Amateur Team; living in Geneva, Switzerland.
1990: Age 23. Started first year as professional with the Dutch TVM Team. Remained living in Geneva for the year.
1991: Moved to Belgium to be closer to team HQ and more centralized (also to get English TV!)
Harley dudes
Photo: © Sabine Sunderland
1994: Marriage to Sabine, whom Scott calls "my Belgian soulmate. I definitely recall this to be a really happy period; we had so much fun together."
1996: Birth of son Saën: "the start of a lot more happy days."
1998: Accident in Amstel Gold. "The start of the darkest period in my cycling career."
1999: Victory in Vuelta a Castilla-Léon. "The sign for me that all was going to be okay after all."

Significant races

1976: National Championships, Road Race (amateur)
1991: First Pro victory, the Tropheo Pantalica, (febr. Sicily)
1992: 5th in Milan-San Remo. "This race was just one adrenalin blast"
1993: 1st overall in the Mazda Alpine Tour (Australia). "Just great to win on home soil."
1999: victory in Vuelta a Castilla-Léon. "I won the first stage and put on the leader's jersey thinking 'I'm back', it was satisfying and rewarding."
2000: 7th in World Championships in Plouay (Fr). "This confirmed that again I can perform at the top level"

Up close and personal

Sporting dream

"As a teenager, and still today, it has always been my dream to represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games. Probably because in sport, and more particular in cycling, these seem to be the most important events in the eyes of the Australian Public together with the Tour de France.

"As a little boy riding my bike, I was imagining being a World Champion; and I haven't given up on that dream yet. The pink or yellow jersey of the three big tours have never really appealed to me as much as that Rainbow Jersey a World Champion gets to wear all year."

Likes

  • Good food and fine wine enjoyed in nice company
  • Riding the Harley. "I love motorbikes!"
  • Scuba diving with friends
  • Camping and fishing in Australia
  • Watching movies (action, thrillers and comedies)
  • Reading (favourite author: Stephen King), new age books. "The books which were most influential during my recovery in '98 were the ones written by Norman Vincent Peale"
  • Listening to music (of great variety, music to suit the mood) "I like to listen to hard rock before races. Going to concerts and festivals is something I really enjoy."
  • "People who are straight up and honest. People who you can have a good laugh with. I enjoy being in groups, just hanging out together."

Dislikes

  • Rainy days, being wet and cold on the bike
  • Bad food like overcooked pasta and French green beans
  • Waiting "I simply cannot handle standing in long queues and being stuck in traffic jams."