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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 20 - May 31: Canobio-Cantu, 133 km

An active day

Well, we're almost at the last page of the Giro book. Just one more stage to come tomorrow. Today was a good race, with a lot of action. It's always like that the last week with teams controlling the team GC, then guys getting the Intergiro done, then the mountains thing that was still not 100 percent sure until the last mountain stage, then the most combative classification, which is still a little bit open. If Magnus is third in the Intergiro tomorrow he'll probably win that, and it's worth 6000 euros. He only needs three points to win.

Today Lampre were up for the points jersey, because if Svorada took out the Intergiro and placed well at the finish, then he'd take it from Simoni. So that's why they were riding to keep it together. But we went 10 metres from the start and the attacks started. We had a 49 km/h average in the first hour. Then it died down and started up again in the feed zone. I jumped with everything that looked reasonable. But in the back of my mind I thought I would wait till the end. The stage was in two parts and the second part was where I thought it would happen.

Personally, I had good legs and I felt I'd recovered well from yesterday. I was just watching it and was pretty relaxed. 15 guys chipped off the front just before the Intergiro, then I went across with some others and we ended up with 27 in front. There were a few attacks, and I was following to see who's going where. Pantani was sort of trying to move up on GC or I dunno...doing something unusual.

It was all happening. Velo and Lombardi went out pretty early, because we still had that climb to go. I thought I still had a good chance as I took off after Figueras and Mazzoleni on the climb. It was working really well but just as I put it in the big ring to stomp over the top, I broke a front spoke. The wheel went out of whack and was rubbing on the forks. I was about 5m off Figueras' wheel and I had to sit down, rip the quick release off and try to think what to do.

Trying to think quickly and straight with a maximum heartrate is not easy. I kept going and kept losing ground - they were going away on the descent once they started working together. I could feel the wheel rubbing and it was all over the shop. With a 16 spoke wheel when 1 spoke goes, all the wheel goes out of whack because it's so tightly tensioned.

I asked Kim Andersen what to do but it was only 10 km to go and the neutral car wasn't there in between the break and us. Kim said just stay there as there's not much you can do. It would have been impossible to change the wheel and get back on to do the sprint.

I couldn't get out of the seat at all, and although I tried to move up for the sprint, I was afraid that the wheel would totally shit itself. The spoke was banging against the forks and making a terrible sound.

You could say it was a missed opportunity but that's bike racing. I was very disappointed after the race, very frustrated. But later I was thankful that nothing worse happened. I'm not saying I would have been a sure winner, although when Lombardi had to ride like that it would have taken the sting out of him. It would have been nice to be up there racing for the win, just to finish off the last road stage of the Giro on a good note.

I got a little bit of time too today. It gives me a little bit of breathing space tomorrow so I should keep 23rd. But 23rd, 22nd, 25th is all the same really.

Anyway it was good weather and a good race. It's the first real stage that was really open. The whole day was attacks, no cooperation. It was really only the last 10km there was cooperation between Mercatone Uno and Landbouwkrediet.

Otherwise the day was wrapped up. Short but sweet. Everybody looked a bit fresher today, and I had a bit of time to freshen up for tomorrow.

Tomorrow's plan

The stage is 33 km tomorrow, so I'll go for a bit of a ride in the morning. The start isn't too far from the hotel which makes it easier. I can get up and have brekky, go for a ride for an hour, have lunch at 12, and I start at 3:38. I'll get ready, warm up and go full gas for 45 minutes (or less). It's going to be pretty fast, but I don't know if the corners are tight or not. We shall see tomorrow.

After the time trial we're heading out for a pizza (finally) and some beers. There are some of the fakta big bosses watching the stage today and tomorrow. They're staying here tomorrow night so we'll go with them and probably shoot the breeze about the race.

Thumbs up

All in all it's been a fun Giro. We've had really good weather, with only two periods of bad weather: the day on the mountain and the other day was when Cipo went down.

Stay on track for Germany

As we get to the end I'm not letting go, otherwise the body sometimes goes into that mode of recuperation. That's always the biggest problem between races. You've got to try and hold that, not that we'll have much of a chance to take it easy. We have a 12 o'clock flight on Monday that only gets in at 5:30 - these were the only flights we could get. I might get 30 minutes on the home trainer, have a massage, and bang into it on Tuesday.

I'll finish off the book tomorrow!