Former Australian road professional Scott Sunderland is joining other cycling dignitaries in riding the London-Paris Cycling Pro-Am June 25-28th 2009. Sunderland, who helped mastermind Carlos Sastre’s Tour de France triumph last year, will be back in the saddle for the first time since retiring in 2004.
The London-Paris Cycle Tour is a three-day endurance event, a “professional event for amateurs”. Like a pro event it has full support, rolling road closures and covers 520km in three days followed by a rest day in Paris.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back on the bike and returning to riding,” Sunderland said. “Cycling is enjoying a huge surge in popularity in the UK, following the success of British Cycling in Beijing and I’m proud to be taking part in what is Britain’s top cyclosportive.”
London-Paris 09 is the blue riband of UK cyclosportives and is widely regarded as the premier professional event for amateur riders. This year’s event will have four partners, the Geoff Thomas Foundation (a leukaemia charity set up by former England footballer Geoff Thomas), Christel House, Schools for Children of Cambodia and South Africa’s Morning Star which works with children with HIV.
The event has the support of British Cycling. This PRO/AM has attracted riders like double Olympic Gold medallist James Cracknell; Tour de France, Giro and World Cup winner Stephen Roche (who will ride again in 2009 to raise money for leukaemia research after his son contracted the illness); Sean Kelly, Johan Museeuw, Brian Smith and ex-England footballer Geoff Thomas.
Sunderland raced professionally on the road from 1990 to 2004, beginning with TVM, then moving on to Lotto, Gan, Palmans-Ideal, Team Fakta and Alessio-Bianchi before retiring. He was a team director with Bjarne Riis’ Team CSC from 2004 – 2008, helping Carlos Sastre win the 2008 Tour de France.
Australian-born Sunderland, who’s based in Belgium, said: “London-Paris attracts some of the very best former pro-riders and there’s no better place for the amateur cyclist to experience the excitement of professional road cycling.”
As a boy from the New South Wales bush, Sunderland worked double shifts in an abattoir (slaughterhouse) to fund his early cycling career. He competed in the world’s biggest events until suffering horrific injuries in the Amstel Gold World Cup race in 1998. He sustained a double blood clot on the brain and after five hours of neurosurgery to save his life, Sunderland fought his way back to fitness and competitive racing.
“We are thrilled to have someone of Scott’s stature riding this year,” said London-Paris 09 director, Sven Thiele. “He is an inspirational team leader, who won cycling’s Holy Grail when CSC triumphed in the Tour in 2008. It will be fantastic for our riders to participate alongside someone of Scott’s calibre.”
For more information, visit www.londres-paris.com.