2003 Giro d'Italia rider journals
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...
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
For myself, I did a bit of work and am just waiting for the upcoming stages.
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.
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
Gatto says that after Robbie goes home he'll have a go for a stage win himself.
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,