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Driver's seat: Scott Sunderland's Giro diary 2006

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Photo: © Sabine Sunderland

"It is not your aptitude, but your attitude, that determines your altitude."

— Scott Sunderland, 2005

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Diary Entries

Latest entry: May 27: Long days, but good days

2006 diary entries

 

True Blue

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 odds.

His friends call him 'True Blue' and if any of the crop of Australian pros who made a living in Europe in the 1990s and early part of the 21st century 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 who worked double shifts in the Inverell abattoirs to fund his early European racing career.

Until he retired at the end of 2004, Scott was Australia's longest serving professional cyclist and has a depth of experience in racing that few in the European peloton could match. He placed highly in many of the cycling world's greatest events, and was a well respected rider. He has made a smooth transition from rider to assistant directeur sportif with Bjarne Riis' mighty CSC squad, and is looking forward to the new challenges of thinking for riders instead of being one.

As a racer, Scott 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 recovered and the final few years of his career saw 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 2001 win 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.

Photo Gallery

2004 Paris-Nice

Images by Lars Rønbøg/www.picturesport.com

2003 Giro d'Italia

Stage 7 - May 17: Avezzano-Terminillo, 146 km

Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti

Stage 14- May 24: Marostica-Alpe Pampeago, 162 km

Image by Iain Ashworth

Stage 15 - May 25: Merano-Bolzano, ITT, 42.5 km

Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti

Stage 18 - May 29: Santuorio Vico-Chianale, 175 km

Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti

Stage 21 - June 1: Idsroscalo-Milan, ITT, 33 km 

Image by Marco Bardella

Other photos

Photo ©: Frank Rud Jensen

Scott Sunderland

Born: November 28, 1966, Inverell, NSW, Australia
Lives: Zottegem, Belgium, with wife Sabine and sons Saën and Tristan
Team: Alessio-Bianchi
Height: 178 cm
Weight: 66 kgs
Club: St. George Cycling Club, Sydney

Biography

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 year.
1991: Moved to Belgium to be closer to team HQ and more centralized (also to get English TV!)
Harley dudes
Photo: © Sabine Sunderland

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."
1996: Birth of son Saën: "the start of a lot more happy days."
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."
2001: Victory in GP Pino Cerami
2004: Retires after a long and well-respected career.

Significant races

1986: National Championships, Road Race (amateur)
1991: First Pro victory, the Tropheo Pantalica, (febr. Sicily)
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"

Up close and personal

Sporting dream

"As a teenager, and still today, it has always been my dream to represent Australia at the 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 de France.

"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."

Likes

  • 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 enjoy."
  • "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."

Dislikes

  • 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."