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Photo: © James Victor

Going pro: The Rochelle Gilmore Journal 2003

Rochelle Gilmore - super sprinter and silver medallist in the Scratch Race at the 2002 World Track Championships - is a woman full of ambition. Despite being courted by the number one women's team in the US, Gilmore opted to sign with Lithuanian squad Ausra Gruodis-Safi; her goal being to move her World Cup ranking from 5 to 1 in the space of a year. Follow Rochelle as she attempts to rise to the top of the cycling tree in 2003.


February 23: Out of the swimsuit and out to Leongatha

Hi everybody,

Last night I raced the Leongatha track carnival after a tiring day on Friday. I was up at 6am Friday to do a modelling shoot for Inside Sport; it was planned to take place at the beaches of Cronulla but due to the heavy rain we had to make our way into one of the studios in the city. I was on my feet from 7am to 5pm, and it was definitely more taxing than going for a 100km ride - and talk about uncomfortable!

I am glad I am a cyclist, not a model - I didn't realise until I arrived at the studio that it was a swimwear shoot; I was a little confused as they asked me to bring my bike and bike gear. I thought it might be a bit sexy... but it was in tiny swimwear! I refused the very first bikini they asked me to put on - it was just so tiny! - but I did loosen up a little by the end of the shoot.

To make the day even longer I had to drive straight down to Wollongong for the Novotel Sports Star of year awards. It was a black tie dinner so I had to drop into my place on the way and slip into my dress. I was a monthly nomination but failed to win the major prize that was won by Kerryn McCann - winner of the marathon at the Commonwealth Games. It was a nice night but all I was thinking about was getting home to bed as I was up at 5.30am to get to the airport for my trip to the Leongatha carnival!

So after an early morning and a long flight and drive to Leongatha, I arrived at the house of race promoter Terry Watchorn. His wife had prepared a lovely lunch in between her hectic schedule of jobs. It was then off to the track for what turned out to be some awesome racing.

Race 1: 8 lap Scratch

The first race was a bit messy with a lot of new and unknown riders unsure of how they wanted to race. There was a strong move by a Victorian rider with one and half laps to go and I jumped out of the pack to pull it back. Kerrie Meares was leading into the sprint and I came around the last bend, sprinting with my head down and accidentally drifted from the bottom of the track right up to the fence! I felt so uncomfortable on the track bike as I had not been on it since Christmas time. I got disqualified from the race - and deserved it! Kerrie Meares won from Roselea Hubbard.

Race 2: 15 lap Motorpaced

With 10 laps to travel there was a very bad crash towards the back of the bunch, it happened just as the motorbike lifted the speed, I think 3-4 riders withdrew from the carnival with injuries, with one girl was taken away in an ambulance. The race was neutralised while the injured riders were cleared from the infield.

We started the race once again, this time with only 10 laps, and the motorbike was going quite fast and left the track with two and a half laps to travel. Roselea lead out the sprint from Kerrie then me. In the last bend, Kerrie moved up the track in attempt to pass Rose, and as Rose accelerated I followed her wheel passing Kerrie who had moved up. In the home straight I flicked off her wheel to take the win from Rose then Kerrie.

Race 3: 2000m Wheelrace

I was amazed to learn that I was the scratch mark rider for the handicap considering that Kerrie Meares is the one of the fastest in the world over 500m! Kerrie started 15m in front of me with Rose 10m infront of her. I knew I would have a job to catch these 2! When the gun went they just moved right away from me! I just paced myself for the first lap and a half holding that same distance, I saw that Rose was losing Kerrie's wheel so I put a huge effort in to catch Rose, I reached her wheel and took a few deep breaths and then jumped over to Kerrie's who was starting to struggle. We were riding in a small group until about one lap to go with a couple of riders still out in the lead. I jumped out of the pack and gave it my all, and only just caught the outmarker right on the line to take out the big money race for the night!

Race 4: Sprint heat

Kerrie, Rose and I all had our own heats so we all had easy rides to make the final.

Race 5: Sprint final

Kerrie was determined to win this race as there is an honour roll for the Leongatha Sprint. I won it last year after Kerrie was disqualified in the heat. Rose lead out the sprint with Kerrie jumping off her wheel down the home straight - she was flying! I rolled in for 3rd place from Kerrie and Rose.

I went straight home for an early night as I had to rise early this morning to travel to Geelong to start the first day of the Geelong Women's Tour.