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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 17 - May 28: Salice Terme-Asti, 117 km

The heat is on

Out for a short spin
Photo: © Frank Rud Jensen
Click for larger image

I'm back again after the rest day, which I enjoyed very much, especially the company of my wife Sabine who I haven't seen for three weeks. I'm doing the Tour of Germany straight up after this which means another 11 days. I also saw my youngest son Tristan, who has just learned how to crawl, which was great.

We didn't go out of the hotel much on the rest day: A 45 km ride, massage, sleep and a beer before dinner with Maggie and his wife Meg in the bar, plus a glass of wine with the meal. Our team manager Kim Andersen was very relaxed and ate with us too...But I didn't get my pizza! Just some damn fish. That was a bugger, I tell ya. We had a nice hotel and the rooms were great, but kitchen was just ordinary. At least we're back in a nice hotel tonight.

Although it was only a short stage today (117 km), it was hot! They said it was between 33 and 35 degrees, a bit like the first day, and some of the guys had problems with that at the end. Both Lars Bak and Werner Riebenbauer (who got 5th) almost couldn't get back to camping car because they couldn't see properly. They had to wrap cold wet towels around their feet. Both of them went higher than their maximum heartrates today - normally your heart rate goes down from the beginning of the tour. I just don't think they drank enough and got dehydrated. Lars said his skin was all prickly, but he looked much better at the dinner table.

You take your jersey off after the stage and you're just sitting there - it's so damn hot. You don't even think about getting a towel to dry yourself off. The heat didn't faze me at all or even the other guys like Maggie, but Lars and Werner copped it pretty bad.

We win the Intergiro

Warm day
Photo: © Frank Rud Jensen
Click for larger image

Being such a short day, guys like Maggie were a little pessimistic about how things were going to be. Well, more that he was doubtful about how he was going to be. When you have a rest day some guys react differently. You're naturally expelling so much fluid: 4-5 litres you're sweating out, so when you have a rest day you eat more and your muscles hold water more. In fact, Magnus got up and did half an hour on the home trainer to get the body working again.

But then I talked to Bo Hamburger, from our main Intergiro rivals, the Formaggi Pinzolo team. He said they'd ridden 40 km from the hotel to the start. So obviously they were up for it! Maggie thought he'd have his work cut out, as Di Biase is pulling a few favours from different teams. We discussed it at the team meeting, whether to let Di Biase's team dictate it or to do it our own. We're just sitting back here and waiting so we said 'let's get in and do it ourselves'. The only thing we have to do with Magnus is get him to top speed, as he has a big top end. If you launch him from 50 km/h it doesn't work, but if you can get him to 65 km/h he can do it easy.

We started with about 2.5 km to go and we went directly up to 63-65 km/h. Then Lars Bak was able to wind up a little bit more, and Maggie even had to get out of the saddle a bit to stay on his wheel. He sat down at 250m and won it easily.

Maybe I'm being a little bit picky, but I talked to the VRT guys afterwards, and they said you couldn't see from front on if Svorada had beaten Di Biase or not for second place. But Werner said that Di Biase wasn't second, so we might mention that to the commissaires tomorrow.

It was actually good that we did do an easy start, as everybody thought it would be flat out. Hence Bo Hamburger's 40km to the start was a waste of time. And we just smashed them in the Intergiro. I pulled off and there were gaps everywhere in the peloton. Pantani says to me "how quick are you guys riding for the Intergiro?".

The Intergiro did take the edge off Magnus though, because later on at the finish of the stage, I moved Maggie up to Lombardi and Petacchi's wheel in the final kilometre. But when they stepped out of the corner with 600m to go he started cramping. We were lucky that Werner was able to come over the top of Magnus and he was able to finish 5th. We came second in teams prize today so that was good.

Tougher job tomorrow

Relaxed in the heat
Photo: © Frank Rud Jensen
Click for larger image

Tomorrow it becomes a bit harder. We're pretty good in a few different classements, but the Intergiro sprint is before a third category climb, which is just before the first category climb of Colle d'Esischie. This is also called the Cima Coppi because it's the highest mountain of the Giro (2,366m). There's double mountain prime money and double points for that one. Little Fredy Gonzalez will be trying to get that one for sure to consolidate his jersey.

The climb starts at km 79, but you really start climbing at km 71. The steepest part has considerable portions of 13-14 percent for seven kilometres, and the whole climb is over 20 kilometres. The second climb has the first half at 15 percent and it's 16 km long. If I can survive the first two, then the last climb is a bit better for me. It averages 4.5 percent with a max of 12 percent, but that's not too long.

This stage is the big one. We're doing the highest climbs: 2366m, 2284m and the last climb is 1815m, and we're dropping down to 900m each time. That's some serious altitude.

So I'll be leaving the boys to look after the Intergiro, and I'll see if I can go in the attack and try and get in the right break. Hopefully the cards will fall my way. I'd like to start the last climb with a few minutes but we'll see what happens. Every hill climb so far I've had to give away four minutes. If I'm a few minutes up at the bottom, then I'll try a bit harder if I'm in front.

Light at the end of the tunnel

All in all, the team is good. Kim is thinking of telling Kurt he can stop if he wants, as he's been having a few ups and downs. He's got to do the Tour of Germany next week, and while it would great to keep him here so we can finish with nine, it's possibly better to let him have a few days rest. There are shorter climbs in the Tour of Germany: about 10 km and quite steep. It has a nice time trial and it's probably a good race for him.

Blue Lamborghini

I've heard a story, via Brian Holm on Danish Eurosport: The Pata Chips boss is going to paint his Lamborghini blue if Magnus wins the Intergiro. I think he's pulling our chain though...

But all in all, we've been very active, and every day we've tried to get noticed. our jerseys pick up well. Hopefully we'll have another good one tomorrow.



Images by Frank Rud Jensen/www.teamfakta.dk