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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.

What a day.

By Olivia Gollan

Castilla y Leon World Cup, Spain, March 28, 2004

Tired but delighted
Photo ©: AIS

The AIS women's team have successfully increased their lead in the World Cup series after Oenone Wood finished second today behind German National Team rider, Angela Brodka. In a tight finish, Mirjam Melchers finished third in front of Rochelle Gilmore, who had a good ride to finish fourth. Melchers is now our closest rival in the overall lead after Zoulfia Zabirova finished with no points and Petra Rossner came eighth.

The race took place at 900m altitude and when the snow was falling gently as we drove to the start line the only thing we could talk about was what to wear! Did we have enough clothing to race in the snow? It never snows in Australia, does it? The course weaved its way through 16 corners in a 10km circuit around the streets of Salamanca, in the region of Castilla y Leon. We started with clear intentions: keep the pace high until the bunch sorts itself out and keep Oenone safe.

Nat Bates did an incredible amount of work on the front in the first three laps and with some help from Sara and Lorian, she managed to keep the bunch strung out. It was a struggle to stay in the top 30 riders all day, but we all knew it would be imperative if we were to defend the jersey. Farm Frites and T-Mobile were aggressive from about the fourth lap onwards, and it was clear there were a lot of teams keen to keep things together for a bunch kick.

Melchers had her team trying to set her up for the win all day and without Sara Carrigan chasing her at least three times during the race, we would have been in trouble. Carrigan laid everything on the line to be in the top five riders for the last three laps and was on everything that looked remotely dangerous. Zabirova and Luperini were also being aggressive which was pretty nerve splitting at times, considering what Zabirova can do if she is allowed go. Again it was Carrigan and Lorian Graham who were alert to the moves. At the end of the race, Susanne Ljungskog rode up to Sara, Oenone and I after the finish and congratulated us on how well we ride together. Nice wrap from the world champion.

Coming into the finish, Sara put herself in the wind again and had the pace incredibly high with half a lap to go. The German National Team were also up for the lead-out and as we hit the uphill rise into the finish, so I went to the front and tried to do as much damage as I could. With "Wazza" on the radio and Amy screaming from the sidelines, it was the extra encouragement I needed to get to the last corner. Unbeknown to me, Zabirova had sat up and left a massive gap in the group. A bunch of seven of us crossed the line and as Brodka took her victory salute, I was stoked to see Oenone throw her wheel and beat Melchers to the line.

What a day.