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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.

Tour de L'Aude Feminin, France, May 14-23, 2004

Stage 6 & 7: T-Mobile TT blitz; Onya Kimbo!

By Olivia Gollan

When Kimberly Bruckner came past me like a blur at the 5km to go mark in the individual time trial on Wednesday, the thought of hanging up the bike crossed my mind! I couldn't believe it - I thought I was on a good one and had been at my absolute pain threshold for 26km. How demoralising! I did feel decidedly better about the whole day when I discovered that Dee-Dee Demet, Kimberly and Kirsten Armstrong (all from T-Mobile) had finished one two three with absolutely remarkable times. Dee-Dee put herself back in the jersey and T-Mobile took a stranglehold on the tour.

The Australian contingent didn't fair too badly but it wasn't the same upset as last year when Sara put 40 seconds into the field in the ITT and I surprised myself finishing second. Sara was seventh this year and Kathy Watt was ninth but she was relegated to the back of the field after an incident with the commissaire. As a selection race, there were many nerves before the event on Wednesday and I think we are all pleased to have it behind us. Points have been tight for the TT ride at the Olympics.


In Stage 7, I think the whole bunch was pleased to see a small group go down the road early, leaving us to sit behind the controlling speed of T-Mobile. Kym Shirley, Rachel Heal, Cindy Peters and Chantel Beltman held a gap that oscillated between 1'30 and 3'30. With a 4km climb on every one of the four laps, it wasn't an easy day - especially when Kathy Watt decided to go to the front of the bunch and drive it up the climb - confusing everyone in the bunch. On the last climb, Bessette decided it was time to go again and started attacking. She put the yellow jersey in trouble and so kept going. All of the rest of us were hanging on desperately.

With a pretty long descent over the last 20km, the main peloton regrouped and when we caught sight of the front group, attacks started coming out of the field. My radio had stopped working so I wasn't aware that Rachel Heal (Britain) had dived off the front of the group up the last climb and rode solo to the finish to take the stage and lift herself into seventh overall. Chantelle Beltman won the sprint from Kym Shirley for them to finish second and third. Good result Kimbo!

The nasty uphill rise into the finish left a good opportunity for seconds to be gained and Bessette didn't miss the chance. With another attack at the 2km to go sign she was proving how much she wants to win this tour. Angela Brodka (German National Team) won the bunch kick and Bessette got second - a small group put five seconds into the yellow jersey. Today is a double stage day that finishes with a hors category climb. This could be the major deciding factor of the tour. But tomorrow is also another massive day.