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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 3 - May 12: Policoro-Terme Liugiane, 145 km

Word of the day: Wooden

Interviewed at the start
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

In today's stage I felt I had really good legs. Things went alright with the team: Jørgen Bo went away before the Intergiro with a group, but once it got out to 1'45, the boys at the front wound it up and we were constantly sitting on 55 km/h. We caught them and it slowed down again, then as we got towards the foot of the climb it got faster and faster.

When we got to the climb I was feeling really good. I placed myself really well, and when there were those eight guys off the front, I went across with Kurt Arvesen. Unfortunately the peloton joined us. Then we got to the top and I was sitting in the first 10. By the time we got to the bottom I was in the last 10!

Today was a very extended version of the Poggio, and it's the first descent I've done for a while. The last time I did it was in Austria last year, so I had a bit of a scare around the corners. It was like I had wooden wheels, wooden bike, and a wooden body. I was using those lightweight carbon wheels, which take a little bit longer to heat up and brake properly. When you're really going hard they lock up a but. That compounded the problem...

Then all these Italians were ducking underneath, around the outside. I just couldn't get myself composed and into a good line again. It's just that survival mode that my body goes into. I've knocked it around so many times. I got down and lived through it, but I think a few other guys had a few battle wounds to show for it.

By the time I reached the bottom, Magnus and Cipo turned up! My director said they're psycho, and they are both specialists. Well, even Lance Armstrong was not a born descender. Lance learned because of Sean Yates. I'll probably have to do that with Maggie - follow him on a few descents and learn to drop like a rock.

It was a real disappointment because the finish was nice and I really threw my GC away [ed: Scott lost 4'51 on the stage.] But on the positive side, now I've lost a bit of time I've got a bit of room to move. Maybe in the next couple of days - we'll see. The legs are good, there's no problems as far as going up hill. This race is not one day, that's for sure.

Tomorrow is a third category climb, a bit similar to today but not an uphill finish. I see it as a chance for the sprinters. Today was a second category climb - it was long but not steep. You had Lombardi, Colombo, Petacchi all there over the top. Normally they shouldn't be there. It's a bit hard to judge what we're going to get, as in our books we only have info on the first category climbs.

My guess is a bunch sprint, or possibly they're more willing to try and get a break going. Petacchi has a strong chance for a stage win tomorrow and keeping the jersey. I don't see him having any problems. Maybe Cipo will get up there tomorrow...

Finally I have to say that we've got a nice hotel here. It's a little village hotel right on the beach. But it's a pity we got here so late, because we can't see much. It's one of these hotels that you put on the list of "should be come back to."

Until tomorrow,


Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti