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The Scott Sunderland Diary 2002
Pinning the tail on the donkey
Belgium, April 25, 2002
I've got some good excuses for not updating my diary for a while; so hold your horses before you say "ah finally!". Quite a few inquiries on how my form was coming along found their way to my mailbox and since all I could respond with was "absolutely crap" I didn't bother putting it in writing.
I have been racing though. Well, if you can call my attempts to suffer through the first 150 km of these April one-dayers truly racing. The only colleagues who actually know I've returned to the peloton are the ones that were groveling with me in the tail end of the bunch. It's been bloody frustrating to see nothing but the back of most guys.
It wasn't so much that I wasn't enjoying being back on the bike, but the fact it wasn't feeling good was worrying me. My right leg was still giving me strife and there was absolutely nothing I could point out as a reason: it wasn't hurting, I had no cramps, I had no power, to be precise: I felt nothing at all in that right limb.
The osteopath and physio detected the compensation I make with my left leg to relieve the right, and that was all there seemed wrong, but it felt like there was more to it - for a couple of weeks there, I was playing "pin the tail on the donkey".
All the rehab work I did since the '98 jam-up with osteopath David Krizanic in Australia, which had de-stressed my body, straightened me out, put my pelvis level again, all that work was undone by the beating my knee and leg took in January. I was so pissed off! In the mean time, my left leg was building up the muscles again; the right pathetically "limped behind".
As I write this, I'm in Italy, with the Australian National Team, and in the two days I have been here, I've done some fantastic work with Brian McClain (bio-mechanic) and sports physio Karen.
The bike geometry is slightly different to the one I had "moulded" to before; Brian and I analysed a few reasons for me feeling like I was on the bike. Then, with Karen, we looked at a videotape to discuss my position.
The diagnosis was apparent. "Left hip needs strengthening around the joint for better stability and the same with the ankle." It is the smaller muscles that are the problemo. With the exercise program Karen has given me there should be a noticeable difference within a few weeks. (Tell you, that was a great boost to the morale!)
It's always great to work with these specialists in a relaxed atmosphere - we had a BBQ at the "Service Course" on Monday with a few beers and a few yarns and just generally bullshitting. I'm definitely charging the batteries to full potency again.
Because of this National Team prep session, I'm not on my own down here. A lot of our pro Aussies are present too: Cadel Evans, Michael "Dodger" Rogers, Nathan O'Neil, Graeme "Brownie" Brown, and Allan "Alby" Davis. Stuey "the Freckle" O'Grady has been showing off his new baby, a BMW (AWD) and with the music in the car full blast the guys are having a great time. A bit of "home" in Italy; Brownie even brought the TimTam cookies (got the message Mum?).
It's great to get out of Belgium at this moment, with the hype towards the Amstel Gold World Cup race on at full blast. The newspapers are simply chock-a-block with race-news, with speculations, gossip and great interviews with the April star riders or losers. Nothing compares to this World Cup racing atmosphere!
Amstel, the last of the Spring Classics for this season; damn, I wish I had the legs to ride it! But, I haven't, and in thorough discussion with the team management, Kim Andersen and Peter Sejer Nielsen, I have decided to ride the 2.5 race, Circuit des Mines in France, instead.
Of course it's painful not to ride the Amstel Gold Race, I won't say it isn't, but the most logical step forward for me right now is to ride a stage race. The 1000 km I will cover by riding Circuit de Mines will be the jumping board towards good performances in the upcoming bigger races.
My program looks as follows:
22-24 April : training in Italy, with the National Team
While I am getting a positive boost on the physical side of things, the team has received a rejuvenating injection of financial means. Peter Sejer Nielsens' quest for an additional main sponsor has ended. Last week, he signed a contract with the IT company EDS (www.EDS.com).
Founded in 1962 as Electronic Data Systems, EDS is the leading global information technology (IT) services company. They provide the right strategies, solutions, services and products to help their clients succeed in the digital economy. Here are some fast facts...
Their financial input will mean that the team will find its spot in First Division next season! Of course this also implements that we will get the company of a few new riders.
As Kim Andersen worded it: "This is a new chapter that makes it possible to create the cycling team that I have always dreamed about. But I also want to make it clear that we must keep both feet on the ground. There are abundant examples of shopping sprees that haven't led to anything. The optimal target is participation in the Tour de France in 2004. That is what we are working towards, but it must happen via natural development. In that context it is decisive that I am already now able to look around for the riders that I want to get hold of."
Peter Sejer added: "The ability to fit into the team on social terms, such as good communication with the riders, will be very important."
It's nice to see the team I joined in 2000 developing in this way; I never doubted it would. The guys in the team are definitely adjusting to the Belgian one-day racing, something that was quite new to most of them. These races will be our main target for next season: all of The Spring Classics, including the WC's Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège are high on the wish list. A bigger, stronger team with the right men for the job will be able to present itself well in those races. I'm already looking forward to it.
The rest of team EDS-fakta has been going great guns. Marcus Ljungqvist won Paris-Camembert (1.3) and a few days later he convincingly took victory in Route d'Adélie (1.3). We're still leading second division with no less than 751 UCI points.
Scott Sunderland Spring Classics Tours
Oh yes, before I forget: our Spring Classics Tours were a huge success! The different groups who stayed with us in Belgium during the period of 5 April to 22nd of April were all full of praise for the concept. The remarks we have received so far were all positive and I thank Lawrie Cranley from Bikestyle Pty Ltd, for his fantastic support and help during these three weeks. (note: Read Dr. Jones' report on our Tour of Flanders day!)
But, I'm also thanking the pro's who really made an unforgettable experience for the "Spring Classics Tours" guests! Especially guys like Matthew White, George Hincapie and the US Postal team, the Euskaltel team, CSC-Tiscali Mechanic Christophe (thanks for the bike washes!), Bjarne Riis, etc, and of course the guys from my own EDS-Team fakta squad, who took the time, even while being extremely focused on the racing, to have a chat to our curious and excited group members.
Also I want to give thanks to Eddy Merckx and his staff at the factory. Mr. Merckx took the time and had the patience to have pictures taken and give out autographs!
Numerous other people have contributed to the buzz these fans experienced and I really appreciate their attitude and openness. It has been a fantastic time for all. I hope it contributes to the exposure of the Classics and the popularity of cycling around the world.
Fact is, the size of the groups has contributed to the personal approach and individual care the guests received. In case you're interested on coming over to see these April WC and other races, please contact us and reserve your spot for next year ASAP. We are limiting to 15 people per package. Better go now but I will try to be back soon(er)!
Finally, our team's website - www.teamfakta.dk - has recently undergone a facelift, and is now "unofficially" live. The site has both Danish and English sections, which are regularly updated. You'll be able to find the latest news and results of the team, details of our upcoming races, team and rider bios, photos, sponsors, links and contact information. Take a look for yourselves.
Your humble diarist,
PS: For your information, your Cyclingnews editor Dr. Jones is one of the few cycling journalists I know who are actually quite skilled at riding a pushbike. Jeff arrived in Belgium on the 20th of March. The day after, we bumped into him riding alongside the Kanal. He rode no less than 100kms that day; without having the appropriate clothing to ride in the Belgian spring weather; very impressive!
Editor's note: Thank you Scott :-) After coming from 30 degree temperatures in Sydney, I consider myself extremely fortunate that it didn't rain, unlike today...