By Ian Melvin
First came Anderson and Peiper. Then it was the turn of Sunderland, quickly
followed by O'Grady, Vogels and McEwen. Now there's a new class in town
featuring McGee, Evans and the rapidly improving Rogers. Make sure you don't
forget it, the Aussies are here and they won't be leaving any time soon. Below
these established pros are a whole host of new riders coming through the system;
one of whom is Rory Sutherland who rides for the Rabobank U23 team. Shortly
after racing to a well earned second place in this year's U23 Tour of Flanders
(an event which he describes as "my favourite race of the year") I caught up
with Rory for a chat about life a long way from home.
IM: Hi Rory, for all our readers who don't know you, can you introduce
yourself and tell us a little about you?
RS: My name is Rory Sutherland, 21years old and now in my third year
as an U23 cyclist with the Rabobank GS3 team. I live in Belgium near Antwerp
during the season (February-November), and spend summers in my hometown of
IM: You ride for the Rabobank U23 team (division 3). How's life with
the team? Does the U23 set-up differ much from the Pro team?
RS: My life with the team..... It's changed a little over the last few
years. Plenty of ups and down (mostly my fault), but now things are coming along
really well. We have 19 riders in the team, I'm one of 4 foreigners in the team,
and the rest are Dutch and mostly U23. It's a really great team, and this year
things seem to be going really well for us. I think it's mostly from respect and
how much we are all actually really good mates on and off the bike. I'm not too
sure about the differences between our team and the Div 1 guys, maybe the big
difference is that they've all made it and we're striving to get where they are.
IM: Riding for a pro team is what every young bike rider aspires to.
How did you manage to get a ride with Rabobank? On reflection, would you have
done anything differently?
RS: I'd just like to firstly point out that even though we are in the
3rd div, I don't class myself as a professional, were more like the feeder team
and being in the 3rd division is so we can start bigger races and gives our
riders the chance to ride with the 'real pros'. But anyway..... I was
given the chance to sign with Rabobank through my results as a Junior in Italy
and the World titles in 2000. It also had a lot to do with Mathew Hayman (Rabobank
professional), Matt's also from Canberra and he helped me get in contact with
the team. There are heaps of things I wish I could have learnt quicker the last
few years. But I guess if I hadn't learnt the hard way I might never had learnt!
IM: How do you cope with the demands of racing a full season in
Europe? What do you get up to in your off season?
RS: This year's season has been really hectic. The last two months
I've been home (Belgium) for maybe 15-20 days. So it has been fairly demanding
always travelling and racing. But that's what I love to do so in the end it
really doesn't bother me too much. In the off season I spend all my time back in
Canberra. We have a really great bunch of people in the cycling scene there and
I really enjoy catching up with people and generally hanging out. Its good to
get the chance to "let your hair down" in the summer with all my mates, but
sometimes I do it maybe a little too much than I should...
IM: What so far has been the highlight of your career?
RS: So far... Well hopefully, the real highlights are yet to come! But
to this date I would have to say being able to compete at the World champs in
Plouay in 2000, and coming second at the U23 Tour of Flanders in May (in a
three-up sprint along with a QuickStep U23 rider who won and a member of the US
Team behind Rory in third).
IM: Every rider has goals and aspirations - what are yours?
RS: As most of us..... to win races and ride the Tour de France! And
also to make a career out of something I love. But short term is the second half
of the season in the U23 scene and the World Champs in Canada in October.
IM: Over the past few years we've seen an increasing number of Aussie
pros over in Europe. What's the secret behind it? Has Australia suddenly started
to produce better bike riders?
RS: Ahhhh, you see I couldn't tell you that, or everyone would be able
to do it! Nah, I think there is now a really great structure within the
Australian Domestic scene and through the Australian Institute of Sport. They're
really giving the young guys a chance to have a go in Europe. Also there are
some great role models for Aussie Cycling and it shows that things are not
impossible. And maybe it's the Aussie fighting spirit....
IM: Is there any way readers can learn more about you and your team
over the season?
RS: Well, if they're actually interested..... I've got a website,
built for me by a mate back in Canberra. You can see it at
www.rorysutherland.com or if you
speak Dutch you can check out www.rabobank.nl.
Thanks for taking the time to speak to the Daily Peloton, Rory. We'll make
sure to keep an eye out for you in the coming seasons.