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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

The Scott Sunderland Diary 2004

Racing to the sun in Paris-Nice

Stage 2 - March 8: Chaville - Montargis, 166.5 km

A tough day

It was a funny sort of race today. CSC, instead of defending, went on the attack. My old director Kim Andersen was in the team car and I think it was one of his tactics. They just wound it up with the tailwind and then we turned left into the crosswinds. Once you do that, the peloton is in one long line and bang! Instant results.

I was in that front group initially with quite a few other guys. I moved our team leader Pellizotti up a few times, but then we were sitting in the gutter and one of the guys in front had dropped off the side of the bitumen. I went past and made the effort, but the gap was 1 metre, 2 metres, 3 metres...until I blew. We were doing 55-58 km/h.

I went back to the second group with Zülle, Millar, Møller, Dekker, Jalabert, Vinokourov, Cooke and a few of his teammates and we were driving hard. My speedo was hardly going under 50 km/h, even on the uphills. McEwen got dropped from in front and couldn't even get on our group!

We were sitting at 10-15 seconds behind them for 15 km, then we turned to the right and had a bit of a tailwind. We'd ridden so hard but there were 35 men in front and when they hit the tailwind they all started to ride. We just blew our arses off.

I was there and then...

I'm disappointed, especially as Pellizotti got dropped as well from that group later. He's probably not that good in the wind. He said he was trying to get a drink and eat something, then he found himself shuffled to the side of the road, and the same thing happened to him as it did to me. The simplest thing is riding at the front in an echelon. You're at 100 percent of your heart rate moving up, but you get that 15 second break going back and that's all you need.

All the groups behind including Brochard and those guys caught us with about 7-8 km from the finish and I ended up in the big group. Apparently the full team of CSC and a whole lot of US Postals were up in front. A lot of guys paid today.

After yesterday with Møller and his handlebars, it was a bit of a bummer today. We had Rene Jørgensen in front which is good for him, but when it comes to the big climbs Pellizotti is a bit better.

Weather: good

We were very lucky with the weather. It wasn't warm but it was sunny - about 5 degrees all day and so much bloody wind, even on the last few laps. By 3-4pm you felt the temperature drop.

Condition: not bad

The legs weren't super for me, but I was able to keep myself well positioned and keep an eye on what was going on up there. I was just disappointed that my efforts for Pellizotti didn't get the targeted result, but that's the way it goes. For me, it would have been a good morale booster to be up there.

The condition isn't too bad, I just need a little bit extra. I got a new bike today and it seemed to be OK. It's an aluminium frame with carbon front and rear - a new model that Bianchi's putting out I think. Looks smick.

Coming up

On the GC, we've now got a whole heap of riders at 5 minutes, which means tomorrow we'll have a lot of bunches chipping off the front and CSC and USPS will need to control it. It's going to be a very hard Paris-Nice. It will be interesting to see what's going to happen in the next few days.

It's 225 km tomorrow with a few cruisy hills, a few long ones but not too steep. It will probably be a bunch sprint but hey, we thought that today! Myself and a few other guys in the team are definitely going to try and get up the road in a break.

It was pretty quiet in the car coming back to the hotel. We weren't the only losers today, but there's not much consolation in that. We'll reassess the situation tomorrow evening and see what's happening.

CSC has really put their stamp on this race. They're here to play. Riis has had it in mind from the beginning I think.

Stage 2 results