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
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
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.
coaching session, Inverell
km points score champion, 1985
Riding for Lotto
in the 1996 Tour de France
in the 1996 Tour ITT
Paris-Nice for Gan in 1997
The 1997 Gan Anglophone
final time trial in the 1999 Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic
on the Mur of Geraardsbergen, Omloop Het Volk
official Team Fakta postcard
Sweet victory in the GP Pino Cerami
2001 Fakta jersey
Born: November 29, 1966, Inverell, NSW, Australia
Lives: Zottegem, Belgium, with wife Sabine and son
Height: 178 cm
Weight: 66 kgs
Club: St. George Cycling Club, Sydney
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
1991: Moved to Belgium to be closer to team HQ and
more centralized (also to get English TV!)
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."
Photo: © Sabine Sunderland
1996: Birth of son Saën: "the start of a lot more happy
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."
1976: National Championships, Road Race (amateur)
1991: First Pro victory, the Tropheo Pantalica, (febr.
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"
"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
"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."
- 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
- "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."
- 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."