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2003 Giro d'Italia rider journals

Scott Sunderland

Index to all entries

Nationality: Australian
Team: Team fakta-Pata Chips

Scott Sunderland is riding his first three week tour since his infamous crash in the 1998 Amstel Gold Race, a feat that he didn't think was possible ever again. The determined and experienced Aussie will be one of the leaders of the Danish fakta team, which boasts riders like Magnus Bäckstedt, Frank Høj, Jørgen Bo Petersen and Kurt Asle-Arvesen.

Stage 8 - May 18: Rieti-Arezzo, 214 km


Today we saw that the boys are starting to click as a team which is good. I was trying to get the guys motivated at the beginning of the race but they weren't sure. After yesterday they wanted to take it easy as they haven't done a three week Tour before, and haven't raced against all these 'big names'. But we got ourselves sorted with about 10 km before the Intergiro and had the whole team on the front. We had Magnus sitting in the wheels, but Maggie just got rolled by Jimmy Casper. There wasn't much in it.

The team now realises as a block you're much stronger when you're doing something like that. It's good, we're showing our faces a bit more, and we've had a lot of positive comments from the press.

At the finish it was good, although Frank Høj and myself got shuffled out in the last 5 km. But Lars Bak, Julian Winn and Kurt Arvesen were able to keep things right for Magnus. Maggie said he realised at 600m to go, "Shit I'm on Petacchi's wheel and there's no one to challenge me."

His confidence is improving. He's now in a position where he can look after number one, and he showed it today with his fourth place. Where the others took the difference was at the start of the sprint. When they jumped they took 3-4 metres, but Magnus was coming back at them at the end.

He's got a good kick but when the big boys jump it's something else. When I used to mix it up in the bunch sprints I used to be good too until they jumped. Then it's just a matter of hanging on for fourth or fifth. They jump from 65 km/h and can still accelerate! In the Intergiro I looked at my speedo when I pulled off and I was doing 64 km/h when Werner Riebenbauer came past me, and he was flying...

Worthy winner

I am happy for Cipo. He and his team deserve it - they've put in some bloody big yards those boys. Earlier on there was an attack after about 60 km. It went out to 12 guys and we had Julian Win and Werner there. Directly it went out to 15-20 seconds, then Domina Vacanze got onto the front and closed it down. We were sitting between 65 and 68 km/h. They had to give full gas to close it down, and there were a lot of holes in the peloton after that.

Sidermec didn't have much work to do today. When the break after the Intergiro, Lotto got up there with one or two, Domina with a couple and some guys from Fassa Bortolo. The gap went out to 40 seconds and they brought back in.

It was a pretty fast finish because the 7 km before the final 3 km was slightly downhill, so we were doing 70+ km/h in the 53x 11 just spinning it. It was pretty dodgy. It only needed one person to step off in front and it would have been carnage.

For myself, I did a bit of work and am just waiting for the upcoming stages.

Cipo's popularity

I'm continually amazed by the popularity of Mario Cipollini. We were riding up a hill today and there were a whole lot of people there. Cipo was on front, taking it easy, Petacchi was there too and Sidermec. I noticed all these women on the side of the road were spotting Cipo and just swooning over him. The eyes go wide, jaws drop. Unbelievable. He's just such a star here.

I talked to him today and asked him how he was doing: "Not so good," he said. But there's still a few days left and one of them might be good, and if not, that's life. "Well yeah," he said. He was pretty relaxed but he was spending a bit more time by himself in the peloton today. Possibly more focused. His team had worked so hard and he wanted to give them a win.

After the race I was talking to one of the Italian directors who reckoned that because he's equalled the record, it's going to give a turn to the race. Worldwide, Cipo equalling the record is so good for the Giro. It's pretty spectacular stuff. If Maggie or McEwen won, we'd be lucky to get a quarter of the publicity for the race.

Good conditions

The weather was good today, and the rain they predicted didn't happen, so I'm happy with that. And the food just continues to be good. We haven't had a bad feed here yet with all the pasta and so on. I can understand why the Italians whinge when they get to France.


Some nicknames that are popping up in the peloton: Gilberto Simoni is being called "Spiderman" because of the spiders painted on his bike. Pantani, well everybody knows him. Garzelli's got a nickname of "Squirrel" because he climbs like one. He's also got a cobra painted on his helmet which looks pretty cool.

Then the Aussie contingent - Brett Lancaster, Scotty Davis, Graeme Brown, Robbie McEwen, Nick Gates and myself - was sitting at the back in the bunch having a yarn when Gatto [Nick Gates] says "Long Grain's on the front."

Who?? "Long grain risotto. Cipo and his white long grain outfit."

It's not a bad description because he does have a white outfit and pretty long pins.

Gatto says that after Robbie goes home he'll have a go for a stage win himself.

Senza gas

OK I'd better go. The soigneur's just checking that I've got flat water for my bidons. A few days ago they gave us fizzy water, and that didn't go down well at all I can tell you!

Ciao for now,