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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 19 - May 30: Canelli-Cascata del Toce, 239 km

Big day, small peloton

It was a big day today. Probably on its own it wouldn't have been so bad, but after yesterday... We were late to bed, up at 6:00am this morning (I didn't get to bed last night until 11:45 so I ended up with 6 hours sleep), had to have breakfast, drive to the start, which was at 9:30. I really don't know what it was for - we finished an hour earlier than normal. This morning was another hour and a half to the start, then you do 240 km...They could have made it 100 km shorter and had exactly the same result. Anyway it's over now and we're all through it.

Where's everybody gone?

It was actually funny this morning when we turned up for the sign in. All the teams had big holes in them after yesterday. Poor old Koos Moerenhout (Lotto) turned up with one! He said "at least I'm popular now because the journo's ask me how it is to be by myself." I asked him who's getting his bidons...

He's practically sitting by himself at the dinner table now. There's no more riders and most of the staff and the big truck have gone home. They've still got a campervan, one mechanic, one soigneur, one driver...

Panaria was only there with two, Formaggi with five. Only Saeco, Alessio, Fassa and Sidermec have six or seven riders in their teams. For us it was pretty easy getting organised with four. A lot of personnel are doing the Tour of Germany, so they're still here. It's easy to stay for that extra couple of days and then head up to Germany.

Even when we were going into the village and having coffees, there was no waiting in line. It was early morning, but it was funny.

The stage

The day kicked off and lucky we had a bit of a tailwind. We were buzzing along at 35-36 km/h for the first couple of hours. Maggie picked up the Intergiro which was good, because it showed he is the best in the competition. Svorada wanted it for the points classification, but Maggie rolled him quite easily.

Then with 100 km to go those 10 guys wanted to go off the front. I half thought about it for about 1 second and then let them go. I had half a hunch that Pantani would get his boys on the front. He was so up for it yesterday and ended up not so good. So I thought he would try and do it again today. And he did.

I was still there when he attacked and I wasn't really happy about it. If he could have just left it a bit longer...Ah well, the climb wasn't too bad. We had a little bit of a false flat then between 2 and 1 km to go it was very hard, then a little bit less and only the last 75 m was flat. I was hanging onto them before there was a little bit of flat period and I just had to let them go. They hit the flat and got some tow from the cars and I couldn't close the gap. But I'm still happy with it. I wasn't feeling that fresh - my legs took a hammering and I still moved up two places on GC. It is a consolation I guess, but I was hoping to do a bit better finish.

It's the first time in the race I feel tired today. I've been here for three weeks and had a couple of days with a bit less power in the legs. But today although they weren't shot, I was a bit tired.

Maggie was actually looking forward to the finish today. At the finish he radioed the soigneur to look for a toilet for him. After yesterday with the cold weather, drinking a lot and eating a lot...poor old Maggie had a bit of a problem with his stomach in the last 10 km. It's one thing you can come up against in these races. It could have been swallowing a bit of snowy water off the mountain, something he ate last night or whatever. He's feeling a bit better now and hopefully he'll be fine tomorrow.

Simoni's by far the strongest. He went away and looked like he was doing it easy. Armstrong tries to win every stage he can, so Simoni should try as well. His team's doing a fantastic job too - he's well prepared and so is everyone in his team.

Aitor Gonzalez was just cruising around today, I don't think he did too much damage and wants to win again on Sunday. But we've got our Big Dog Maggie in blue.

Also there's been no raids and everyone's been looked after well. It's been a good year for Italy.

Last chance tomorrow

I've got my last chance tomorrow. It should be a very quick stage as it's only a short stage. It's going to spin the legs but 133km is going to be 3 hours max, so we'll get it over and done with. The first part is along the side of Lake Lugano, and the last 65-70km is pretty well up and down as we leave the lake with a third cat. climb 13 km before the finish. It's going to be hard for Saeco and the sprinter's teams to control it. This could finally be a day that a break could go. I dunno how the legs are going to be. It's just a matter of picking the right move.

Last Aussie standing

I'm the only Aussie left in the race, and I've run out of guys to talk to - they've all gone home! Normally I've been looking for a yarn with one of the boys in the grupetto, but there's not many left. I'm talking to the same guys for quite a bit - had a long chat to Bo Hamburger, Koos Moerenhout, Charly Wegelius. It was just that first four hours when we were moving along well, but not where you couldn't talk. After that it heated up.

All in all I'm happy it's done, and everyone can see the end.

Tour of Germany next week

We don't get much rest after the Giro. On Monday we fly to Dresden for the Tour of Germany, which starts on Tuesday. Only two of us have to finish the Giro (myself and Magnus) and do the Tour of Germany. Jørgen Bo and Kurt have four days to freshen up, which should almost be enough. Kurt's been a little bit sick but Jørgen Bo will be out to prove something in Germany, as he'd convinced himself he'd finish top ten in GC in the Giro.

The peloton's different in the Tour of Germany. I don't have a feeling that it'll be easier. There's no-one in the Giro who hasn't specially prepared for it, apart from a couple of sprinters who are here for a couple of weeks and then going home to prepare for the Tour. Everyone's been getting ready for this race since the beginning of the year. Now Germany, it's the other half of the peloton who are getting ready for the Tour. It's a chance to test their legs and get in some final conditioning before the Tour.

It's like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Different teams, different style, and it's a pretty hard parcours. Either it'll be good or it'll be bad. I'm confident it'll be ok. I just need a few good nights sleep!

Cya tomorrow,