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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

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 18 - May 29: Santuorio Vico-Chianale, 175 km

A bit of an epic day

In the early break
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

It was a bit of an epic day. We had all sorts of weather thrown at us: sunny at the start, then a little bit of light hail, then it started to piss down...There was so much snow washing off the sides of the road that it was bloody dangerous on the descents. I half thought it was going to be good weather, so I gambled on carbon wheels...

Anyway, let's take it from the start: I got in the break, which ended up being 30 guys in the end. Nobody really wanted to do it so I gave really full gas over the top of a small hill and that just split it. But 20 came back to us, then 10 more, and that was bad. Soon after two Kelme riders went with Fredy Gonzalez. I went across to them with a Landbouwkrediet rider on my wheel, who was really just along for the ride. Then Lanfranchi and some others came across. We ended up being nine I think although only seven riders were pulling through the whole time. There were a couple sitting on the hills and we lost one too.

We came through to the first climb, and Belli and Baranowski, who was very strong, came across. Also two Saeco guys and a Kelme guy, so that was a pretty good group. Then we did the descent and the other guys went off (Gonzalez, Belli, Zaballa, Lanfranchi, and Faresin) in front and we started the second climb a minute behind the leaders. Baranowski set a really hard tempo with the Saeco guys in tow, who were waiting for Simoni.

I could hear that the boys were giving full gas behind...then Totschnig came past us, then bloody Simoni came. I really had to dig deep to try and hang on. I couldn't hold him - I had to let go.

Kim asked me whether I wanted the rain jacket at the top. But I couldn't really afford the lost time on the descent. It was probably a bad call because of the snow. I had to get around a few cars, then I came across and saw Garzelli and Pantani laying there...Sandy Casar took his feet out on the descent, and at that point I said it wasn't worth it. These guys were mad. I was a bit disappointed not to be able to hold them and I was completely frozen at the bottom. I had a job not shivering myself off the bike.

When I got to the bottom I had to do a time trial to the finish. The worst thing was that Kim Andersen gave me a bottle and some squeezys to keep me going, and then said he was just going back to look after the other guys. But after he'd gone back, a 25 kilogram rock landed on the bonnet of the car and bounced onto the windscreen! It jumped to the top of the windscreen and lucky it got stuck there and didn't wipe out the bikes. If it had landed on the windscreen itself I don't think they would have been there. As it was, there was a huge whole in the bonnet and they couldn't see out of the windscreen...

So I had a 25 km TT to the finish. When Kim left me I wasn't hearing anything. I didn't know what was going on. It was great way to finish the day off...

Frigo had a strong day. He had to pull one out eventually. He would have moved up a few places on GC too.

Five in one blow

Kurt Arvesen stopped today at the feed, then we had four boys outside the time limit so that's put a big dent in the team. Big Maggie's lost all his competition now for the Intergiro, as Di Biase was in that big group that got eliminated. Speaking of the Intergiro, they flicked me on it and gave it to Baliani. You know when you win a sprint and I got him. It's just money (400 euros) and didn't really count for the classement but it's annoying all the same.

Magnus will just look after himself now and go for the final TT. Svorada can't reach him, even if he beats him in the TT and wins the next two Intergiros.

Personal satisfaction

Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

I'm still happy because I've moved up the classement. I was in the right move and I did what I wanted to. I was 21st again today, and if I could have taken more risks like Casar, I probably would have been 10 minutes quicker and moved into the top 20 on GC. C'est la vie. That's hindsight and that's the way it was today. Garzelli's almost thrown his whole Giro away by taking more risks.

If I hadn't lost that six minutes on the stage that Kurt won...That wasn't a problem of bad luck. That was bad organisation and a lack of communication because we've got a new second director. I'm still dark about that. On the other hand when I lost five minutes on that first day it was a mental block - lack of training, racing, whatever.

This is just stuff anyway. I'm still very happy with the way things have gone. I'm in good health and feel quite good. I've shown myself to be consistent too and that counts in a three week tour. You've seen Garzelli who looked very strong in the first 10 days start to crumble a bit, but Simoni has shown consistency all along - he's been there every day. Simoni has had quite good luck and hasn't fallen or punctured at a bad time.

Really I'm just so happy that all the work that I've done has borne fruit.


We have to leave at 7am tomorrow because the stage starts at 9:20. We didn't get to the hotel until 7:30pm either. The planning of the stages has been hectic the last few days.

The tactic will be to stay in the wheels tomorrow and just hang on to the front guys as long as I can. Six minutes to make up for the top 20 is a pretty big call but you never know. For the same money, and different weather conditions I'd have been there. But that's bike racing. you just have to deal with it.

All for now,