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Photo ©: Sirotti

The Scott Sunderland Diary 2002

Wrapping it up - The Tour, Commonwealth Games, Museeuw and more

Belgium, August 5

Second in Denmark
Photo © Frank Rud Jensen
Click for larger image

On the way home from Denmark, where I rode the Grand Prix CSC Scandihealth and the Herning gadelÝb crit over the weekend, I jotted down some key words and names which stuck while thinking about this aprŤs Tour update. As I'm sitting down now to pour these into a bit of a story, I realize there's really no need for much more detail, so I present my thoughts to you shorthand style:

Tour de France

Lance Armstrong: the absolute champion, discrete but ever-present, dominating
Laurent Jalabert: the master
Erik Zabel: unmatched class in victory and defeat

The Aussies: fantastic performances
Baden Cooke, revelation, very impressive riding, huge talent
Robbie McEwen, incredible display of speed and muscular power
Bradley McGee, huge willpower, very skilled rider
Stuart O'Grady, competitive but not fighting fit this year

Commonwealth Games

Australian supremacy! Fantastic result for all Australians competing. Especially good one for you Stuey! Taking Gold in Manchester surely would make the disappointment of the Tour fade a bit I'd say!

HEW Cyclassics, World Cup

How to win a World Cup
Photo: © AFP
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As the team didn't get the expected start, I watched the race unfold on TV, on the couch with a cup of tea and while sharing some Belgian chocolate with SaŽn. To elaborate a bit on the way it was won is almost a necessity, not just because of who won, it's more about the authority with which he did it.

Like most of the one-day riders; with obvious exception of Erik Zabel, Johan Museeuw doesn't seem to fancy the selective riding of the three-week stage races. He must be the living proof there's more to cycling than the Tour de France!

Actually, only three riders who rode the Tour were at the front in the end: Hincapie, Baldato and Moreni. It shows that the guys who didn't ride the "Grande Boucle" haven't been sitting on their arse. Museeuw went on training camp in Saint-Moritz and he put in a large amount of kilometres on the bike there.

It's like over the last few years, Museeuw has lost ambition for the big stage-races, or for races that are ridden by a partly competitive peloton - with the specific climbers' or sprinters' stages. I suppose it's because cycling itself has changed; since the Tour riders arrived on the scene and only started preparing for that race, like a Lemond and an Armstrong.

I remember Museeuw's first stage wins in the Tour, I'm talking 10 years ago now. He rides the classics in a similar way, at the front and no giving in. Apparently he thrives on the rawness, the hardship of the one-day race in which the complete pack of about 180 riders is aiming for the win and gives it their all that one day. And he's been having a ball again this year. To use his own words "I'm old now, but strong and experienced."

Again, in a group with 10 incredibly strong riders, he showed how it's done! He initiated the sprint from about 400 metres before the line and finished it off. In a realistic perspective, the only favourites missing in that group fighting for the win after a dangerous and tricky 253 kms were defending champion Erik Zabel and in my opinion an in-form Peter Van Petegem

Museeuw won his 11th World Cup race yesterday! The closest to follow is Erik Zabel, who holds 7 World Cup victories to his name. Look at these rider's palmares and stand in awe!

Well, this just about wraps it up, the month of July and the aftermath of the Tour...

Interviewed in Denmark
Photo © Frank Rud Jensen
Click for larger image

The greater part of the peloton is ready for the end of season racing. August holds plenty of challenges for those who didn't ride the Tour, for who came away from it unsatisfied with their results, for those who still need to add some more spice to their season (like myself) and those preparing for the Tour of Spain and the remaining World Cup Races.

Belgium seems in the grip of another bout of stomach flu and with a few of my training mates suffering from the persistent bug, I am trying to fight it off myself for a third time this season. On Saturday, 10th I'll be heading to Germany, to ride the Sparkassen Giro-Bochum, 1.3 the next day. After that we travel on to Denmark to participate in the Post Danmark Rundt from the 13th - 17th of August.

This 2.2. Stage race is definitely one of the most important appointments for Team EDS-fakta for the season. An the field of participants is likely to impress any cycling fan - names like Millar, Hamilton, Tafi, Hunter, Steels, Kroon, Hondo, Aldag, Kirsipuu, Teutenberg, etc.

If things go as planned the trade name and colours of EDS-fakta won't go unnoticed there and the team will try to animate the race to the best of our abilities. To aim for one or two stage wins and finish it off with a good overall for one of us is not too ambitious, and I hope we'll be successful.

The second part of August, I'll be racing in Belgium again.

20/8 GP Stad Zottegem 1.3
21/8 Druivenkoers Overijse 1.3
01/9 GP Jef Scherens Leuven 1.3

I'm really anticipating that bit, as the arrival of the baby will rejoice my little family and because the racing's close to home I won't have to miss much of his first weeks.

Wish me some luck for the coming races - It'd come in handy!