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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 21 - June 1: Idsroscalo-Milan, ITT, 33 km 

The last page

I've finished. It's been a good three weeks and I've enjoyed it very much. Things have turned out much better than what I thought at the beginning. I didn't get my stage win, but the team was very productive and we've had some great results, Kurt's stage win and Magnus's Intergiro jersey being the highlights. Every day we were up there for the Intergiro, getting guys in the breaks, finishing in the first 10 on a lot of days, and I've been there in the mountains. It's been a great tour for us (and a good money earner).

I've also found a lot of Italian fans who were cheering for me today in the TT and the stages before. Having the Italians calling my name is really great, then there's all the English speaking supporters who know me too. I've actually had quite a few Italians come up to me and say they've been riding the diary updates on Cyclingnews, even though here they've got La Gazzetta, live TV and so on. It's nice to see that they're following it on Cyclingnews.

I finished 55th in the time trial so I kept my 23rd place on GC, although it's a bit academic as it's practically the same points and the same prizemoney as 22nd or 24th. It's nice though and I'm happy with it and I'm very positive about it all. I enjoyed it from day one until the last day. We had great hotels, great weather (and that makes a big difference), the organisation was good - a couple of hiccups but hey, that's in everything. So much goes into running these things and everyone did a great job...a big thanks to all these guys.

Congratulations to my team. Although we lost five with four days to go, everyone knows who we are now. A lot of journos have said how consistent we've been and also how consistent I've been. I've been part of the team doing sprints and working for the guys, and still doing a bit of a GC for myself.

Also a big thanks to our soigneur Robin Taylor, who has been fantastic, keeping us all in shape.

Hats off to Simoni

The big mover in the Giro was Simoni. He was much more dominant than the first Giro that he won in 2001. The parcours was perfectly suited for him. He didn't have any problems in the flat stages, as they were easy for the sprinters teams to control, especially with two strong sprinters teams there (Domina Vacanze and Fassa Bortolo). And in the mountains, he was just head shoulders above everyone else. His time trialing abilities were such that he didn't lose too much to everyone else, and his team was very strong. That made the difference. He was a class above everyone, and he deserved everything he got.

The decisive day when he won the Giro was the day he attacked when Kurt won (stage 10). To do something like that and to go after the pink jersey on a day like that was big stuff. It took a lot of balls to do it and it was fantastic. He's a good winner.

Garzelli did a good job today. He had to pull it out to keep second place and he did it. Overall it was a nice podium. Popovych is still very young and is a great prospect for the future.

...And to Fredy Gonzalez

In the mountains classification young Fredy Gonzalez rode a great race to win it. He wasn't the best climber, but he tactically knew where to go and what to go after. Good on him. He worked for three weeks for it, and every day there was a mountain sprint, he was watching for it. That takes a bit of doing.

...And of course for Magnus!

From our point of view, the Intergiro was great for Magnus and great for the team. It really brought the team together and we were working well. It was good for the atmosphere in the team and for Magnus it was good for his confidence. He's got a lot of it back now for sprinting and time trialing. He's not a pure sprinter but he's got the horsepower, so he's better suited to the high power sprints when we start at 65 km/h.

It was unlucky he got a puncture today with 10 km to go. He had to take his normal bike because they didn't have a reserve TT bike ready. But he was happy with his result and he finished fourth on the points classification and second in the Most Combative classification so that was good. We'll see a lot more of Magnus Bäckstedt in future.

...And the Fassa Boys

Fassa Bortolo was the strongest team with all the stage wins and the overall with Frigo and Gonzalez. They almost won a ninth stage today and they placed quite well in the TT's.

Plane crash

There was one strange thing that happened today though. I was warming up for the time trial and Robin Taylor was beside me. We heard a plane coming over and I made a remark to her along the lines of 'sounds like she's running a bit rough'. The loudspeakers were going at the start and I didn't think any more of it.

Afterwards, Robin said that she'd seen all this smoke over there - big black smoke. We got to the hotel afterwards and found that the plane had crashed. My condolences to the pilot and co-pilot's family, both were killed on impact.

There was a moment where they thought they might have had to stop the race, even though it had nothing to do with the Giro. It was just close to the location. It was a bit eerie when you saw the plane going over.

No rest for another week

Now I have to quickly refocus and head up to Germany for the tour there that starts on Tuesday. It's a little bit stressful in the first day or two, because in a week long stage race the break often goes in the first day or two. I hope the transfer and flight up there doesn't knock the form and legs around too much, and we'll be fit for the first day.

It'll be different food, different scenery, and a different peloton. We go from having pasta and red wine to eating schnitzel and drinking weissbier.

I was talking to Adriano Baffi and Claude Criquielion before the TT today and Baffi said "You're going good, always in the attacks. It's fantastic that the older guys can be in there so much...every year I did the Giro and went to Switzerland and always won something."

Hopefully that means I'll have some success in Germany.

And now, I'm about to have cocktails at the bar!