Part I: The transition, director vs. rider, and highlights
During the course of 2005, Scott Sunderland has transformed himself from an experienced professional cyclist to a hard working directeur sportif with one of the top teams in the world: Team CSC. The always approachable Australian discussed his first season with Cyclingnews' Chief Online Editor Jeff Jones in this two part interview.
After retiring as a professional cyclist at the end of 2004, Scott Sunderland did not wait long before taking up his next challenge. An offer to join Team CSC as a sports director was too good to pass up, and Scott found himself exchanging his bike for a position behind the wheel of a team car. It's a natural choice for a number of ex-riders, and nearly all the best directors and team managers have been professionals themselves. The difference is that instead of being looked after by the team staff, you are the person doing the looking after. The number of daily tasks is multiplied, along with the responsibility. And there's only one way to learn it: do it.
Cyclingnews spoke to Scott Sunderland over a few beers in a smoky cafe in Gent, after another long day near the end of the 2005 season. The Belgian-based Aussie reflected on his first year in the driver's seat of one of Team CSC's black and red Škodas. It was, as he expected, quite a learning experience.
"I think I had a bit of an idea of what had to be done," he said of his expectations. "I had an idea of what I was going to be capable of doing, but what sticks in my mind is that last year in December, Bjarne [Riis, CSC team manager] said 'Look, in your first year in as a team director, you just take it easy.' So I thought, 'OK, this is great'. At the first training camp, the vibe was good. The second training camp, I already had to do more than the first one. Went in the first race; we won that [GP Marseillaise]. We had a good race in Bessèges. At the end of Bessèges, I already had to leave to do my first race, drive across to Italy. That was it. Hey, you're off!
Click here for the first part of the interview