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2003 Giro d'Italia rider journals

Scott Sunderland and Magnus Bäckstedt

Index to all entries

Nationality: Australian and Swedish
Team: Team fakta

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 ever possible 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. Magnus will also be a contributor to this Giro diary, with the big Swede joining the Aussie in the hunt for stage wins. Magnus has ridden the Tour de France on several occasions and has won stages, and that makes him a big asset for Team fakta in the Giro.

Stage 1 - May 10: Lecce - Lecce, 201 km

It was bloody warm today!

Our hotel was by the seaside and we thought it wasn't that hot - 25 degrees or so. But today was up around the 35 degree mark so it was a big change, especially coming from northern Europe. We were quite lucky they were riding easy for the first 120-130 kilometres before the tempo started to get high for the Intergiro. Until then it was sweating and drinking [ed: not drinking and swearing]. All the non-Italians were suffering a bit.

Once it got rolling for the Intergiro it got a bit easier and cooler. We actually messed up in the Intergiro because Magnus was in really good position and had good legs, along with Werner Riebenbauer. But he was lucky not to go down in that crash. He came round the outside of that crash with his shoe rubbing against the wall!

After the Intergiro, I went a few times in a few attacks, but no-one was really interested, even though we had 50 km to go. It all came back together so I said to the guys on the microphone to keep active. Julian Winn went with a small one, then Frank Høj gave a big one to get away with Frattini.

It worked. We were in front of the cameras for quite a few kilometres, and now everyone knows that Team fakta-Pata Chips is in the Giro!

At the end, Magnus and Werner were sitting really well, they were up there with a few kilometres to go but the wave just kept coming. Everybody wanted to be on Cipo's wheel. Also Werner hasn't raced for two weeks after he got sick around the Amstel. So 12th is not too bad for his first race back in two weeks.

I heard afterwards that McEwen and Brown were rubbing shoulders a bit in the end: there's definitely no love lost there. And Petacchi must have been strong to come over Cipo such a short distance from the line.

It has to be said that Cipo is just unbelievable. It's Cipo mania here - you can hear the crowds from a few blocks away when he's coming. The die hard Pantani fans are still there too. He actually looks good with his new ear job. I think the biggest thing with the compulsory helmets is that class/style thing with their image - they're not really able to put that on display any more.

Overall it's really nice to be here. The last time I did the Giro was in '92 and I must say since I did it then it's come up a few notches. Kim Andersen (DS) was impressed with state of the roads etc. All the dangerous things were marked and we had plenty of warning. Also the journalists all recognised me too. Davide Cassani from RAI came and spoke to me. I've had good success here before and they haven't forgotten me.

We got through the first day without being scathed. Everybody was pretty good and it possibly gives us a good indication that we are ready here. Tomorrow should be a little bit better for Werner with a bit of an uphill finish. We'll see how correct they are with the profiles. It was meant to be flat today but I can assure you it wasn't.

Until tomorrow, ciao for now
Scott