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Photo: © Rob Karman

The Anna Millward Diary

Australian Anna Millward (Wilson until her marriage in 2000) is one of the best women's cyclists in the world, and was ranked number 1 for the first part of 2000. She has won races everywhere, from time trials in France, World Cup races in Switzerland to stage races in the USA, and was the first cyclist ever to break the Hour Record under the "new" UCI rules. Anna possesses an incredible sprint and this combined with her power and determination makes her a formidable cyclist on any terrain. She is also one of the friendliest and most optimistic people you could ever meet.

Anna's Giro d'Italia Femminile diary

Prologue and Stage 1 - July 5 & 6: Pontedera ITT, 2 km; Pontedera-Perignano di Lari, 128 km

Hi again,

Here I am in Italy with the Australian National team, to race the Giro d'Italia Femminile. Teams of eight riders are allowed in the Giro, so there are quite a few of us. Four of the Australian team are heading from here to the Commonwealth Games in Manchester so we aren't 100% sure if we'll finish the tour; what we want to make sure of is that we come out of it in the best possible shape for Manchester.

The Giro d'Italia started yesterday with a 2km prologue around a basic square shape. The prologue didn't count for the general classification, it was simply to sort out the wearers of the jerseys for day one. However, we didn't find out that it didn't count until almost everyone had raced! Amazing contrast between the impeccable organisation of the Hewlett Packard tour in the USA and this race...

Anyway, Chantal Beltman (Acca Due O) recorded the fastest time and so had the honour of wearing the pink leader's jersey for day one of the tour. In second place was Olga Slioussareva (Itera) and in third place was Sara Carrigan (Australia). Sara's performance was the best of the riders under 23 and so she wore the white jersey for the best young rider on day one. I finished 3 seconds behind, and I'm not sure of my placing.

Day 1 proved to be a very tough day. We raced 128kms. The first 75kms were pretty fast with only a couple of short climbs to break up the flat terrain. But then we hit the hills. The first categorised climb was the toughest of the day, with the last 1500 metres being something like a 15% grade. This shattered the bunch into many pieces. I later saw on television that Zinaida Stahurskaia (Choriko) was the first to the top, a couple of hundred metres in front of Edita Pucinskaite (Figuerella) and Nicole Brandli (Acca Due O). The three of them got together soon after the climb and set a fair chase for the rest of us!

Behind them, a group of nine riders formed from dribs and drabs. In that group were three more Acca Due O riders, in Rasa and Jolanta Polikevicuite and Diana Ziluite. Also there was Svetlana Boubnekova (Kookai), Parietti, and four other riders who I will discover from the results!! These nine riders eventually caught the three in front to form a group of 12 who stayed away to win the bike race. In the closing kilometres, Jolanta Polikevicuite (Acca Due O) jumped clear to win by 8 seconds, with Diana Ziluite (Acca Due O) winning the sprint for second over Zinaida Stahurskaia (Choriko).

I ended up in the second group on the road, along with two other Australians, Sara Carrigan and Hayley Rutherford. We had a group of around 15 riders, most notably three Itera riders including Olga Slioussareva. We did our best to chase but only contin ued to lose time on the front group. At the finish we were something like 3 minutes behind.

Tomorrow looks like another tough day with a total of nine small climbs in 112km, and the finish is at the top of the last climb.

Photo: © Rob Karman


Prologue and Stage 1 report and results