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91st Tour de France - July 3-25, 2004
Photo: © Memory Corp
Scott Sunderland's Tour Diary
Cyclingnews' longest contributing diarist Scott Sunderland is taking
part in his second Tour de France in 2004 as part of the versatile Alessio-Bianchi
team. Scott's role will be mainly to help Pietro Caucchioli, but he also hopes
to have a few opportunities for stage wins. Once again, he'll be providing his
highly experienced viewpoint on the Tour, its riders and anything else.
Index of 2004 updates
Stage 14 - July 18: Carcassonne - Nimes, 192.5 km
Rest day - July 19
A few hours' escape from the Tour
Stage 14 was just an out of control start. Finally once the break did get away
and it settled down, I found it quite funny (not in a disrespectful way) when
I started talking to Garcia Acosta from Illes Balears. I asked him how he was
going, and he replied, "Good, good," but then he said, "I remember when you
won the Vuelta a Bidasoa twice as an amateur. You were one of the guys I really
looked up to when I was this high."
That took me a bit by surprise, as Garcia Acosta isn't exactly a little bloke
and he was telling me about when he was a kid. Oh well, I guess it means I've
been doing this for a few years now. But I've looked up to my idols like Sean
Kelly, Phil Anderson, Stephen Roche, Greg LeMond, and I got to race with them.
I still have the same admiration for them. The other day, Sean Kelly just stopped
to say g'day to me and he's still one of my heroes, one of the hard men, so
I was quite chuffed. . Now it's turning around with the same thing happening
The only other interesting part of the stage was a pinch there with about 30
km to go. I think it was at the second sprint. I tell you what, everybody was
moaning on that climb. It wasn't much of a climb, maybe only a couple of km,
but it hurt. Everybody was glad to see the end of yesterday.
The rest day was okay. It basically began when the stage finished yesterday.
I rode from the finish to the hotel, which was about 5 km, then had a nice long
bath. I stayed with my wife Sabine and son SaŰn yesterday evening, and the team
director was fine with that. I even skipped the massage yesterday, as I just
wanted to relax, kick back and go and have dinner.
I had a lovely dinner with my family and friend David the osteopath. I finally
ate something else other than pasta. And for a moment I thought I was away from
the Tour de France. It was a great escape for four or five hours. No soigneurs,
no team, just the restaurant. It was a really lovely evening.
This morning we were woken by a knock on the door for blood controls. We half
expected that because we weren't tested on the first rest day. So we all donated
some blood to a good cause, then had some brekky and headed out for a bit of
a ride. I just cruised out for an hour. My legs didn't feel like I had to do
any more. I had some lunch then I really got tired and was flat for the rest
of the afternoon. Those were the hours that we normally start and finish the
race, so it must have been something to do with the system breaking the routine.
But by 5:30 I felt good again and the energy levels went up.
Basically I just passed a nice easy afternoon. Did a few interviews and kicked
back. We had pizza tonight, so that's two evenings away from pasta. I
also had a visit from my old team director when I was an amateur, Jean-Pierre
Losing a shoe
I went out for a ride with Marcus Ljungqvist and Claus M°ller. We were on some
small roads and Marcus said that he had to stop to adjust his shoe plate. So
he sat down on the wall, took one shoe off...and the thing slid off the wall
and into the water 5m below! He had to walk around in the wheat field to get
at it, but lucky for him it was shallow where his shoe landed or he could have
lost his shoe.
Caucchioli was hurting pretty bad yesterday. He's had a few sleepless nights
and his cold is getting worse. He was using a mask to try and break up the congestion,
so I hope he gets better. And besides that I'm rooming with him so I hope he
doesn't get me sick as well!
We're into the third week and Jan Ullrich and all the other favourites have
said it: the third week is the most important week, definitely for the classement
riders. The day after the rest day can be a bit of a hard day because the legs
can feel otherwise. It's not a flat day either. It'll be interesting to see
what happens but I think the GC riders will keep quiet and it'll be another
attacking day for the rest of us. All eyes are going to be towards the Alpe
d'Huez TT. Armstrong, Basso, Kl÷den, Totschnig, Ullrich, Mancebo - all of them
are very close and it's going to be quite a battle for these guys over the next
couple of days. Ullrich hasn't been looking so good but he's a guy who you can't
Tomorrow I put my money on it that we're going to go out of the blocks. I haven't
been disappointed yet. I'll just see how I'm feeling. If it is possibly I'll
try and go in a break. Or I might just end up staying close to Caucchioli, depending
on how he wakes up tomorrow. We'll know more then.
Stage 14 results