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The Scott Sunderland Diary 2003
Belgium, February 7, 2003
Yep, once more we're here, at the beginning of the European Race Season.
More than likely in accord with the complete peloton, I am hoping this will be a good year for cycling and that everybody involved will help to protect our sport and our jobs. Maybe the international press might give cycling some more credit this year and stop all the bullshit about doping.
But that's an issue I don't want to chinwag about right now, no debate about the rights and wrongs and what is happening in this or that sport or what other sporting bodies are doing about performance enhancing drugs in their discipline. I'll leave that for another time.
The winter did pass quickly and training has gone well. I survived Belgium in the off-season OK. I actually enjoyed the cold, crisp - and wet - festive season and the necessary kilometres were done without a lot of hassle.
Most of the roads of our "Flemish Ardennes" were ridden in the company of Serge Baguet (very determined and hungry for 2003), Peter Van Petegem (calm and calculated as always) and Kevin Van Impe from Lotto-Domo, Christophe Stevens from Marlux and Fabien De Waele, Andy De Smet and Mario De Clercq (all Palmans-Collstrop); everyone with big ambitions for the new season.
The only difference with our training rides during the season is that in the off-season period there were few stops at coffee-shops, time out on the road was just meant for training. The drinking of coffee or other more spirited beverages, and the eating of pancakes and other sweets was limited to the afternoons in the company of the family.
Believe it or not but I did spend quite a few hours on the Tacx Grand Excel home trainer this winter. It really was a great training tool on those rainy days, when the roads were too slippery, covered with ice.
Now and again we met up for a few hours of cyclo-cross training; something I really could dig as I have enjoyed mountain-biking in the Australian summer in other years. It was the first time that I'd ridden a cyclo-cross bike and it meant a nice change with plenty of benefits to go with it. For one, it's much quicker than an MTB on asphalt roads and you have the same position as you have on the road bike. Besides that, the technical training will be a plus for the road season when it comes to staying upright on the cobbles in the spring races.
I received an Opera cyclo-cross bike kitted out with Shimano. From my mate Eric Vandeperre at Shimano Interbike Belgium I got a nice surprise: Shimano mountain bike shoes and pedals to go with it. Fantastic stuff. They are definitely the best mountain bike shoes and pedals I have ever used, so big thanks for all the help mate!
Eric also got Craft to sponsor me with thermal gear, to keep all body parts warm all winter. Especially those days it was still -5 °C at midday you can believe me: it got a bit chilly on the willy, so the warm long johns were greatly appreciated. Thanks for that too guys!
Anyone having read previous entries to my diary knows how much I value good equipment. It is vital to feeling good as a rider and I take good care of all my stuff. One thing that will be treasured this year is my new team bike. It looks awesome to say the least. The "Opera Giorgione" is made by the frame builders at Pinarello and from them you would not expect anything else but this stylish, well finished new line of bikes.
All this new stuff at the beginning of a new season is always cool. It takes quite a bit of work setting each bike up precisely; in total I had five to do a cyclo-cross bike, my training bike, two road bikes (plus another one to come in case I ride the Giro) and a time-trial bike.
We are all riding the new light Shimano shoes and well designed pedals this year. Meticulous as I am, I insist getting these things spot on. I probably take twice as long to set it all up because I insist on doing it all myself (no-one else to blame then if things end up arse about face).
I like the subtle changes to our team race kit for this season. Nalini is known to make highly wearable, very fashionable cycling clothing. Their winter gear especially is super.
The effort to have bikes and clothing colour coordinated paid off well, it offers a nice visual aspect on top of the high standard quality.
Thanks to Kim Egedesų, Bell helmets will be protecting our noggins and Rudy Project sunnies are on board again too.
All new bikes, all new gear and above all: a new division for 2003 as we promoted to first category after topping the bill in second category last season! So let's get on with it and see to which new heights we can take Team fakta this season! I'll keep you posted, and you can always check the latest team results on www.teamfakta.dk.
Ride safe and above all enjoy!