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The Scott Sunderland Diary 2004
Stage 4 and LA Confidential
Tour de Suisse Stage 4, June 15, 2004
Today was a fast start, even though it wasn't completely downhill. I think we averaged 48.5 km/h in the first 50 km. It started really fast, too fast perhaps as after only 25 km there was a big crash on the descent. There was a bit of crosswind at that point and we were pedaling at 65 km/h. Luckily for Garzelli, Wauters and myself there was a bit of a gap in front of us. We came out of a corner and saw five or six guys spread out on the deck.
Robert Förster ended up in the wheat field, and now has a dislocated shoulder. Markus Zberg landed on the other side of the road. Tobias Steinhauser was also lying there. All of them went down very heavily and they weren't moving much. If there wasn't that bit of a gap, maybe some 30 guys would have gone down.
Then, it slowed down bit.
Some of the riders who had lost 18 minutes on the first day were still trying to go up the road, but always some of the classement riders were going with them. That meant thatT-Mobile rode after everything. Eventually, four riders went off the front and T-Mobile backed it off. It was the signal for Bontempi to give his Saeco team the marching orders Saeco had no-one in the break, but there was a Lampre rider there. It left the strong impression that those teams are putting their men on the front because another Italian team has riders in a break, it's just BS. Are they just riding against each other or competing against the whole peloton?
Anyway, there's no way Lotto could have brought the break back without Saeco putting in the hard yards. They weren't riding too furiously, but they were keeping the gap to four or five minutes. I'll tell you, Saeco's Gerrit Glomser didn't appear too happy that his boys had to ride on the front! But Lotto waited until 60 km to the finish before they took over themselves, with one or two MrBookmakers, a couple of Gerolsteiners.
It was more or less a straight run in to the finish, then we got the finishing circuit with one hill in it. It was 12 percent but very short - only 350m long. It caused a bit of a split on the top but all came back together for the sprint. We got organised for Baldato. I was there, with Hvastija - who used to lead out Endrio Leoni - behind me. I didn't plan to hit the front until after the one kilometre to go banner. But I only had two riders in front of me so I had to go to the front at about 1300m out; which then left Hvastija with too much to do and he peeled off at the 300m mark. Of course 200m would have been better. Just as he started to die, Fassa's Chicchi went over the top. Baldato got slightly boxed in and that was it.
Chicchi put his hands up too soon and got nipped by McEwen. Kirchen did something like that here last year! It was a hard but valuable lesson for Chicchi. Bet it'll be the first and last time he makes that mistake; well, should be, I mean, since master Zabel's made that same mistake we can't be too harsh.
Enjoyable weather today, with smooth roads and that made it super fast. Everybody's commenting how quick this race is. The depth of teams is quite extraordinary and it makes for very fast racing. The first 100 km just go like that. The way it's been going, we've been doing 90 km in the first two hours. You get to the feed and then it's time to get ready for the finish.
Tomorrow will be another day of high speeds because we should have tailwind for three quarters of the stage. It's practically flat, maybe a little bit undulating with one small climb smack in the middle. Then it's an uphill finish, which is steeper and longer than the one we had yesterday, about 15 km in total, with 10 km of actual climbing. I see there is one part, with 3 km to go, that is 10 percent.
Something for the classement riders tomorrow? Think so.
I've been looking at how the other guys are riding. Ullrich is looking good, so are Julich and Fabian Jeker. Cioni of course and Georg Totschnig - he seems to be going well. Guys like Georg have to put it into the other riders so they have 1'30 over Ullrich and Julich by the time trial. I don't really know how Sinkewitz is going after the Tour of Germany.
After tomorrow, we have Thursday's big mountain day. Then on Friday we'll get another uphill finish. On Saturday there's a first cat. climb, but early in the race - 90 km to go - so it could come back together but one can't tell with certainty yet, maybe a break will stay away. Then Sunday's the time trial.
I feel ok and am recuperating well. It's definitely going in the right direction, and providing things keeps moving this way I'll be right for the Tour. I guess, because of different circumstances - injuries mainly - the team as a whole is taking some time to get into its stride. Martin Hvastija is just getting his legs going strong again and Baldato is coming back from injury and improving daily. Caucchioli's form is picking up quickly now. His sights are set for a mountain stage in the Tour. Overall, things are going quite well. If we can pick up a stage win this week then it will boost confidence.
I talked to a L'Equipe journalist this morning and we had a discussion about the new book, LA Confidential. I haven't seen the full details - the only snippet I've read is from Emma O'Reilly, but it's been a hot topic today.
I honestly can't work out what benefit writing a book like this about Lance Armstrong will achieve - except make the writers a shitload of money, what's the point?
I hope that the readers of Cyclingnews don't buy his book because I have the feeling it's all about money, the timing picked to publish it says enough don't you think? Cycling has been at the brunt of too many scandals - while other sports are getting away with a lot worse. I agree, some of them have deserved to come out, but most have been sensational.
Too many people are hanging on Lance Armstrong, he is such an inspiration to so many people, in and outside the sport. We need guys like Lance; really, people need to stop "killing" their heroes!
OK, all for now,