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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 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 that bad.

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 down.

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 here.

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.

cheers,
Scott