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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

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

Stage 4 - July 9: Correggio-Correggio, 118 km

Yesterday was meant to be 118km of dead flat roads but when two teams failed to make the start on time, the race was delayed and shortened to 106kms. It was a great day for us with many narrow, twisty roads and we were all ready to lead out Rochelle Gilmore if the race finished in a bunch kick or to be part of the breakaway moves.

It didn't take long for the aggression to begin and after many failed attempts, a breakaway group of eight formed around the 25km mark. Olivia Gollan was there for our team, along with Bertine Spijkerman (Power Plate), Roberta Bonanomi (Figurella), Lucille Hunkeler (Chirio), Ghita Beltman (Acca Due O), Alessan d'Ettorre (Team 2002), Volha Hayeva (Raschiani) and Letizia Giardinelli (Fanini).

The group quickly gained a two minute lead, but once their lead approached the three minute mark the Kookai team began to chase, to protect the leader's jersey of Svetlana Boubnekova. The Kookai team did a good job policing the time gap and kept it around the one minute thirty second mark for most of the race. As we entered the final 20km, the Itera team began to take up the chase, trying to pull the leader's back to set up their sprinter Olga Slioussareva.

Things were all set for an incredibly tight finish with the group coming back to a 20 second lead at the 4km mark. We started to mass at the front to set up for a sprint finish just in case we caught the leaders.

As it was, the leaders held on to win by seven seconds, with Bertine Spijkerman (Power Plate) narrowly winning the sprint over Olivia Gollan (Australia). This had no impact on the top ten overall, with Bounekova retaining the leader's jersey.

Results Stage 4

Stage 5 - July 10: Lesmo-Triuggio, 94 km

Today we raced 95km over a couple of mountain sprints and then around a circuit 10 times. The circuit was half uphill and half downhill. There were a couple of nasty crashes early on in the race and Liz Tadich (Australia) was unlucky and got caught in one of them. She was unhurt - just had to suffer to chase back on to the bunch!

Soba Rosa Bravo (Spain) was very aggressive for the first few circuits, attacking several times. Eventually a break of around 10 riders formed without her however. In the break for our team was Naomi Williams. The Itera team missed the break and after chasing in fits and starts for a couple of laps, two of the Itera riders went to the front and put the hammer down. It took them a full lap to pull the breakaway back but in the process they split the bunch into pieces and the front group was whittled down to around 50 riders.

Things settled down for a little while until the Acca Due O team decided to go on the war path and their attacks whittled the bunch down still further to around 40 riders. Boubnekova (Kookai) somehow managed to cover all their attacks however and then with just over two laps to go a group of riders who weren't a threat overall got clear. The group included Chantal Beltman (Acca Due O), Regina Schleicher (Fanini), Roz Reekie-May (Chirio), Joulia Martisova (Itera) and Iryna Chuzhynova (Raschiani). Behind them, a group of four chasing riders formed including Naomi Williams (Australia), Roberta Bonanomi (Figurella), Ghita Beltman (Acca Due O) and Maribel Morena (Pragma Colnago).

The two groups chased each other all the way to the finish line, with Regina Schleicher winning the stage from Joulia Martisova, and the second group closing the gap to four seconds but never quite making the junction. I finished in the bunch, 1 and a half minutes behind.

Tomorrow is a 19.5km time trial. Good practice for Commonwealth Games

Results Stage 5

Photo: © Rob Karman