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 16 - May 26: Arco Trento-Pavia, 207 km
Last one before rest day
The day started off well, it was beautiful and warm and there was great scenery
in Arco, where we were near a castle at the start. It was nice to be able to
look around. Everybody was relaxed and the whole team was upbeat with Maggie's
success taking the blue jersey yesterday. For the majority of the team, they
can see the light at the end of the tunnel and you can feel the positive energy
of the team. I'm staying to feel better myself, although my 'bad days' weren't
Then we teed off. We knew for us it was easier if a group went up the road
- preferably with one of us in it - to take the Intergiro points. Now Magnus
has the lead, he only has to defend it rather than trying to take back points.
The first 80km we were winding alongside Lago di Garda. It was very twisty
and there were half a dozen tunnels to go through. It was difficult to move
up as there were stone walls on one side and cliffs on the other. The race was
very active and I must have gone away in breaks 20 times, but nothing stuck,
mainly because we had a headwind. Despite this, we still averaged 46 km/h in
the first two hours.
Once we got to the end of the valley, down towards the south end of the lake,
we had a side/head wind. Then we headed off west to Pavia, and again it was
mainly a headwind, although it was a bit from the left. That calmed everything
Then the break of two went which was fine for us, but Formaggi was interested
in getting the guys back for the Intergiro. Everything hotted up and Svorada
got it from Di Biase and Magnus. It was on TV but don't know if the commissaires
were watching it. I think they have to start looking at Di Biase and what his
team are doing to Magnus and my teammates. Put it this way, it wasn't the cleanest
sprint I've ever seen. Out on the road, it's pretty hard to police it. Magnus
is a very clean straight sprinter, but they don't want to get him too wild...
Then it went on. It was a block headwind and the peloton was bunched up. We
were all sitting together talking and the next minute everyone braked and Werner
Riebenbauer was talking or not concentrating and he hit the rear wheel of Jørgen
Bo! He got his front wheel in Jørgen's back wheel, and then gone off the road
into a 2m embankment down into a rice field! He was flat on his back in 2 feet
of water. Lucky he was OK. We couldn't stop laughing - all we could hear was
static and water sloshing around on his radio. The team director and the mechanic
too: once they pushed him off they cracked up laughing.
Werner came back to the peloton and was spraying water all over his face to
get the mud off. He moved up towards the sprint and got a bit of a clear path
because no one wanted to rub shoulders with him.
Then we came in for the sprint. Petacchi was very strong again. Charly Wegelius
talked to him earlier and asked him 'How do you feel'. His reply 'Well I don't
feel much because they [race doctors] have given me some strong painkillers.'
Petacchi's been the fastest guy in this race and I even have my suspicions
that he let Cipo get his first stage win (not the second though). But maybe
not - there's so little difference between the two that if one is 2 percent
down on one day and the other is 2 percent up, that will change this around.
You don't need much at all.
We're all pretty happy now. A few of us have our wives down here for the rest
day. Personally, it's great to have Sabine here with me. I haven't seen her
for three weeks so it's good for the morale. Even Kim Andersen has his wife
We've only got five stages to go now - two difficult days and the TT plus
two flat stages. So it's not long to go, and we've still got our nine guys here.
Go easy on the massage!
We had a nice dinner tonight with a few glasses of red wine. Then we rounded
off with a massage. When I came in, Robin (our soigneur) must have thought that
Magnus was still on the table. Magnus has legs like blocks of wood and she has
to work pretty hard to soften them up. When I was on the table she hit a few
knots there and I really knew about it.
Aussie cheer squad
I caught up with Lawrie Cranley from Bikestyle too today, and he's here with
a few Aussies and Americans on his tour group. I've seen a few Aussies in the
last few days and it's quite nice. It's always good to hear a "Go Scotty...Go
Aussie" in the mountains. You think it's just Simoni, Garzelli, Pantani, Petacchi...then
you hear a "Go fakta, Go Scotty" and it's really nice. People have seen me now
a few times so they recognise me. Even the Italian supporters calling out to
fakta and Pata Chips.
Rest day tomorrow
That's about it. Tomorrow I'll just go for a bit of a cruise for an hour or
so and have a relaxing lunch and put the feet up in the afternoon.
I'll see you again on Wednesday.