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The AIS Women's Team Diary 2004

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On the podium at Milan San Remo
Photo: © AIS

Welcome to one of our more unusual diaries, with entries from the various members of the Australian Institute of Sport's Women's team as they conduct their European campaign.

In 2003 the AIS team was the top women's squad in the world and has started 2004 with a bang as pocket rocket sprinter Oenone Wood leads the World Cup after two rounds. Follow Wood and team-mates such as Olivia Gollan and Sara Carrigan in their diary, only on Cyclingnews.

Absolute carnage

By Olivia Gollan

Vuelta Castilla y Leon, Stage 3 - March 26: Zamora-Salamanca, 104.3 km

Well in the rush to get my story off last night I missed some fairly vital information. After dinner the race organisers had taken the leader's jersey off Kate Bates and given it to the Farm Frites rider, Anouska Van Der Zee who had been in the break and came second to Kate yesterday. Van Der Zee had finished three spots ahead of Kate in stage one which put her ahead on points. It definitely seems that all is stacked against Kate when it comes to winning tours. In the recent Geelong Tour she was awarded the jersey after the prologue, only to have it stripped after the organisers decided they had her time mixed up. One day it will be hers to wear, I am sure.

Today's stage was absolute carnage. The roads might as well have been goat tracks and the wind, well, what can I say. I was nearly blown back to Australia. After a very hectic start with Farm Frites driving the bunch at 50km an hour for the first 30km, we turned into the cross winds and of course with Melchers and her team keeping the pace high it was a huge grovel to stay in position and out of the wind. The big names were all hovering around the front of the bunch looking to strike but I don't think anyone was very keen to put themselves in the wind more than they had to.

After the final KOM for the tour we descended down into a right hand bend and before I blinked Trixi Worrack (Nürnberger) and Mirjam Melchers were off the front and burying themselves. With over 30km to go it seemed like a big task but even with a few teams working on the front, the two girls were riding away. Another 5km down the road and we got the call the Mirjam was on her own - Trixi told me later in the race that Mirjam was just too strong and rode away from her. Mirjam proved her strength and stayed away to win the stage by around 2 minutes. An absolutely incredible ride. Yes, she took the jersey off her team mate but it was likely that Kate Bates would have beaten Van Der Zee in the sprint and taken the lead from Farm Frites.

For the AIS team it was a different day for everyone. Oenone did not start today but will hopefully be good for Sunday's World Cup race. Sara had a great ride, putting in an incredible attack with about 15km to go. From this point on, what was left of the group just kept stringing out and splitting. Coming into the finish I tried to lead Sara out and grovelled up a 500m uphill sprint. Sara finished 3rd in the bunch kick which was a great result because it will move her up on GC. Natalie pulled the pin early - good idea I reckon considering how important Sunday is for the team. Amy put in an enormous effort to stay with the main field for the best part of the race and Lorian was unfortunate with the multiple crashes in the cross winds and bad roads. But we are all here to tell the tale!

So the next task is to rest up tomorrow and be firing for the World Cup on Sunday. Hopefully we will get to ride around the course in the morning and get an idea of what we are in for. The profile looks lumpy but only climbs 100m so it may not be very challenging. Either way it will be the participants that make the race, not the course. Bring it on!