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2003 Giro d'Italia rider journals

Scott Sunderland and Magnus Bäckstedt

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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 2 - May 11: Copernico-Matera, 177 km

I'm getting used to racing in Italy again. I dunno if it's me, but I think it's a bit of a change. They've gone a bit retro. They take it a bit easy at the start and then it's full gas at the end. When I was last here in '96 it was full on from the gun. We probably know why things have changed...

Today everybody was happy to roll along and nobody was going to give an inch, with the classification so close. The early part was quite entertaining. We were riding along, passing along the beaches, with all the girls in bikinis on the side of the road. That was probably the most excitement we had all day.

Once we hit the Intergiro we were motoring, doing 65-70 km/h for the sprint. I think Cipollini took that, then he came back with his lightweight bike with light wheels. Even Lombardi and Scirea had them, but it didn't seem to help Cipo today.

Then there were a few little attacks. Magnus tried to get away head start before the climb but couldn't get away. The tempo got higher and higher as we approached it, and Magnus picked me up 1.5 km from the bottom to put me in perfect position. I was quite comfortable on the climb although it was fast. I wasn't in too much difficulty which was good, and I had two teammates with me: Kurt Arvesen and Jørgen Bo Petersen over the top.

Then for some reason Mercatone Uno was riding on the front. Maybe it was just to show that Pantani is in the race, or maybe it was to stop Cipo from getting back on. Petacchi was able to come back and he brought back Mcewen and even Baldato. It was a bit of a bummer. It would have been better for me, especially with Kurt there.

As for the sprint, and Robbie's disqualification, then here's how my director saw it: A sprinter who moves across his line can move over to make the other one work a bit harder. In this case Robbie closed the door on him. If he'd stopped short with a metre or two then he wouldn't have been disqualified. Completely closing the door is a no go.

It was unfortunate for Robbie because he'd done a good ride to get there. But doing that is not the way to win, isn't it?

For tomorrow, we'll see how we go. It's more up our alley as the last kilometre is uphill, with the final 500 metres at 8 percent. It's a big straight line too. Garzelli and Simoni are the ones to look for, as they're very strong on those finishes.

With riders losing time on the classification today, I see things changing tomorrow. I expect fireworks from the word go, and the boys are pretty keen to go on the attack.