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The Scott Sunderland Diary 2004
Good and not good
Tour de Suisse Stage 2-3, June 13-14, 2004
Stage 3 - June 14: Rheinfelden - Juraparc-Vallorbe, 185.0km
How did today go? I guess it was good and not good. For myself I feel really good; I have good recuperation and am just starting to get the legs back that I had for the classics where I can make attacks. Today wasn't really an opportunity to get away, because I'm up for the classement. It was no use trying to go away because T-Mobile was riding after anyone who didn't lose 18 minutes on day 1. But they could let that group go with guys like Hunter in it, and he did well to win the stage.
It was fast again - we averaged 46 km/h for the first 65 km, and we didn't even start racing until after 10 km so it was really on. That included a Cat. 4 climb too.
Once the break went it was pretty well easy, and even before that I had no problems and was in the first 20 on the first climb, riding within myself. I was giving the boys a bit of a hand, trying to get them away into an escape. Unfortunately it didn't happen. After that, it was just a matter of getting to the finish, where maybe our classement riders like Caucchioli could have a dabble.
We finished with a 4th Cat. followed by a 3rd Cat. climb. The first kilometre was hard at 10 percent and when we hit the bottom, a Milaneza, Credit Agricole and Domina rider attacked. As soon as we hit it I was in a bit trouble, so I backed off and rode my own tempo. Then it lined out with Guerini driving for T-Mobile. A few of the guys in front started losing the wheel. I tried to go down a cog and bridge the gap but I was just going to blow. It was unfortunate but then it was just a matter of getting my butt to the top of the hill. It was only 3 km but today you saw the guys who've been doing some big training in the hills.
I'm disappointed that I lost 45 seconds today, but there are two more mountain top finishes to go, then the big mountain day in between them. We'll just see what happens. I'm hoping to have a bit more consistency. I really don't know where I am at the moment - I'm just starting to get stronger on the flats and on the smaller, not so steep climbs. It's going in the right direction so I'm positive about that. There's still three weeks to go to the tour so that's ok. I've improved a hell of a lot between Luxembourg and here, and when I've finished this race I'll have another couple of weeks to freshen up and do some speed work.
Stage 2: Vino's crash
Yesterday's second stage was a very, very fast start. We went out of the blocks. It was a really nice race though, and Lotto and MrBookamker did a really good job to bring the break back. But Steffen Wesemann said this morning how dangerous the finishing lap was. I can understand that they needed to finish there, but there were a few more corners and we were on very narrow roads so it was a bit treacherous. We can deal with it. We don't like to, but we can deal with it. What we did see was a lack of marshals in the area we needed it, where there were traffic islands.
A couple of guys in front of me almost nailed it there. If I'd hit them... It was a cobbled street going onto a wide road, but there were traffic islands. We were going so quick and everyone was head down, arse up that no-one had time to signal. I just heard "bang" and saw Vinokourov lying face down on the ground.
I'm not knocking the race organisers - the rest was all good, but it was just one spot where there were no flags. Unfortunately it claimed a big victim. That's a big loss to T-Mobile.
I was talking about it to some of the boys this evening. It's unbelievable, sport. It's mainly cycling because of what we have to do to be good. It can be so good to you then all of a sudden you're just laying there on the ground and it's going down the drain before your eyes. At least for Vino it's nothing more than a shoulder operation, so he should be back later this season.
Watching the weather
It was nice weather today so that was good - a bit of a bonus after a few wet days. This race is really well organised with IMG and Rominger at the helm. There are heaps of people on the sides of the roads. They're very nice roads to ride on and Switzerland is such a tidy country, that it's very nice to be here again.
Tomorrow we have 1900m of climbing. In fact every day it's between 1800-3000m, except of the biggest mountain stage which is 4000m. We'll see how it pans out. The main thing for me is to get my condition back. If I do lose more time it'll give me a chance to get up the road. I'm happy I'm starting to get the legs I need, and whatever comes between now and the end is welcome. The main thing is I'm confident and going into the Tour with good form. The Olympic selection is made at the end of this month. .
Other than that, it was a pretty relaxing day. Bugger all happened actually. It was a nice little village at the start and we had good coffee and you even get beer. We finished in the main part of the watchmaking area in Switzerland in Jura. Apparently (and this is what they told us at the start) in about 1100 there was a bit of a blue between the Protestants and the Catholics in France, and all the watchmakers who were Catholics fled to the Jura Mountains in Switzerland. During the winter, they weren't working too much so they taught the farmers how to make watches too. That's how it all started and now there's some of the biggest Swiss watchmakers up here, like Tissot.
Cheers for now,