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The AIS Women's Team Diary 2005
Cyclingnews has been pleased to publish a diary contributed by the members of the Australian Institute of Sport's Women's team as they conduct their European campaign. For 2005, the team had a new lineup, including Amy Gillett, Katie Brown, Jenny Macpherson, Kate Nichols and Alexis Rhodes, who joined existing members Lorian Graham and Louise Yaxley to form a tight crew to take on the world.
On Monday, July 18, 2005, everything changed. In the light of the tragic event that took the life of Amy Gillett and put her five team-mates in hospital, the AIS women's road cycling program has been suspended. We believe the fighting spirit these athletes have displayed on the road will extend to their recovery from their injuries and we hope one day to once again bring you their stories in their own words.
Also see: Index to 2005 race reports and entries
Tribute, July 20, 2005
More tributes to Amy Gillett - part 2
Since the tragic news broke yesterday of the death of Amy Gillett in a crash that also injured all five of her Australian cycling team-mates we have been inundated with messages of support and sympathy from all over the world. More than anything, this brings home that cycling is a global community and the loss of one of us touches us all. Cyclingnews is honoured and humbled to be able to provide a platform for everyone's feelings and we start our second page of tributes to Amy with an account from British rider Emma Davies, who was on the scene minutes after the crash. (More tributes from around the world: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5.)
Emma Davies, Great Britain / Vlaanderen - Capri Sonne - T-Interim Professional Ladies Team: "As I write this there is an air of silence over the hotel. Yesterday, exactly 10 years after Fabio Casartelli died on a Tour de France descent the seriousness of what we do as professional cyclists every day was brought home to us.
"The Australian National Team suffered the worst tragedy that can strike any team. The team is a close one - they live and race together for most of the year away from home, living in Italy.
"Like many people who have raced internationally you realise that you may not know people that well but you do know them to say hello to and pass the time of day. I knew two of the girls from racing against them on the track and chatting to them at various hotels around the world.
"The team headed out for training prior to the first stage of Thuringen Rundfart which was due to start today with a time trial. My own team, Vlaanderen - Capri Sonne - T-Interim, headed out on the same road just 15 minutes behind the Australians. The sight we were met with 20 minutes into our ride was something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
"It brought home to all of us how fragile life is.
"The race is due to continue, after the cancellation of the time trial and there is a memorial service being held today at the scene of this terrible accident.
"On behalf of all members of the Great Britain Cycling Team both past and present and the Vlaanderen - Capri Sonne - T-Interim professional cycling team I would like to give our condolences and deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Amy Gillett.
"We would also like to express our feelings for the rest of the team who lie critically ill in hospital in Germany and we hope for a full recovery.
"A single lighted candle burns on the table where the AIS team should be sitting.
"All our thoughts and prayers are with them."
Catherine Marsal Team Director Team SATS-GRACE: "I just want to express from my part and from the part of Team SATS, my deepest condolences to Amy´s familly, and to Australian Cycling Federation. Amy and the AIS Team has been such an inspiration for everybody, for all women cycling. An exemple of happyness, determination and success and will always still their in our mind and heart.
"This is a terrible moment and I want to send you all my sympathy and courage.
"Sending all our deepest thoughts for you guys...the cycling world is supporting you."
Robert Müller, Germany: "Shock came over me when I watched the news at German breakfast TV this morning and saw the pictures of race-bikes scattered in bits and pieces on a street and beside in the lawn. It looked so horrible.
"The shock got more personal when I heard the commentator saying that it was an Australian female cycling team, who was hit by a car out of control and one of its members are dead, the others are in serious condition in hospital.
"Being a passionate hobby road-cyclist myself it is always a shock when you hear of such terrible accidents. It reminds you how dangerous this wonderful sport can be and how much luck I had in some situations not waking up in hospital (I actually did one time). To my club's training ride this evening I will go with very mixed feelings.
"I spent some time in Australia with my studies and liked it very much down under and have still connections to there and to Australians in Germany. I also follow what the Australian cyclists are up to. Because of that I'm so sad that a successful and still promising team is hit so hard.
"My thoughts are with the families and friends of the cyclists, who fighting their maybe hardest fight in hospital now and of course with the family, husband and friends of Amy Gillett.
Ben Kersten, Wollongong, Australia: "This is without doubt truly the most devastating incident in the history of the cycling world.
"I will never forget the feeling when awoken to the news of this tragedy.
"I can honestly say Amy was the sweetest and nicest rider I have ever had the pleasure of riding with. Her presence in our team was one of childish purity. Her love for the sport and her husband Simon were endless.
"Amy was the brightest light in our team and her family should know of our love and admiration for every part of her. Our heartfelt thoughts go out to Simon, and to the Safe and Gillett families.
"Rest in Peace.
"To Alexis and Katie Brown: Please fight on. To Lousie, Lorian, Katie: Get well soon."
Mark Stiegler, Bacchus Marsh, Australia: "I was lucky enough to have my wife survive a horendous car accident while out cycling, and even though she is paralised, we are thankful every day that she is alive. Each time I hear news of this nature I feel like crying, as I know what the family of the five survivors are now enduring, but cannot imagine the pain for the family of Amy Gillett. My deepest sympathy to all involved, as well as every ounce of strength I can send their way."
Fleur Byrce, Tasmania, Australia: "My thoughts and best wishes go to all the girls and their families at such a horrific time. My prayers for Amy Gillet and her family and my best wishes and prayers for Louise Yaxley and her family and friends."
Samantha Gooding and Family, South Australia: "We would like to express our deepest sorrow and condolences for Amy's family and friends. Amy will be missed.
"We would also like to wish the best and speedy recoveries to the rest of team and our thoughts are with them and there families.
Jorge Sandoval, Race Director, Wellington Women's World Cup: "I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to Amy Gillett's family, her friends and to the entire Australian cycling community. This is a tragic day for all sports people from around the world, especially for cycling.
As race organisers, we meet hundreds of riders from many countries over the years, some of them stay in our memories for many especial reasons. To me, Amy was one of them, a person who was always smiling to other riders or race officials around the hotel before the race, saying "G’day" to everyone at dinner time or coming to me and other officials at the end of the race to say thank you…"
John & Michele Davies, Parents of Emma Davies - Great Britain/Vlaanderen-Capri Sonne: "Our thoughts are with all the parents and families of every rider and especially Amy Gillett. We hope so very much that Alexis, Lorian, Louise, Katie and Kate make a full recovery. These events put everything in cycling into perspective."
Roger Woolley, Peel District CC, Western Australia: "The Peel District Cycling Club in WA joins with all other cyclists in sending our deepest sympathy to Amy's loved ones and our very best wishes for a full recovery of the other team members now in hospital."
John Gilliland, USA: "We in the American cyclingnews.com community are deeply shocked and saddened by this tragedy. Our hearts go out to Amy Gillett, her teammates, their families, friends, and Aussies everywhere. I can’t imagine what this is like for the Australian cycling community, but please know that our thoughts of sympathy and support are with you."
Paul Reedy, Rowing Coach, London, UK: "Amy was loved and respected by all in the rowing world that knew her and her loss will be felt keenly by all of us who enjoyed watching her progress in cycling.
"As an athlete she had so many of the best qualities including the one characteristic that all true champions absolutely must have, the desire to be a champion.
"My heartfelt sympathy to Simon. You are in my prayers mate."
Gina and Chris, Michigan, USA: "Please pass along our condolences to the families, friends, and teammates of the Australian cyclists. We are so sorry. I do not know what else to say. We are thinking of you even though we have never met."
Timothy Shame, USA: "In our sadness, I think back to Nicole Reinhart and the way her family and friends remember her, by their efforts to assist others with the Nicole Reinhart Foundation. Perhaps this thought will motivate some to do the same for Amy."
Kylie-Anne Richards, Coburg Cycling Club, Victoria, Australia: "On behalf of Coburg Cycling Club, we would like to send our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Amy. We would also like to wish a speedy recovery for Katie, Lorian, Kate, Alexis and Louise. To all involved in this horrific tragedy, you will be in our thoughts during this trying time."
Shaun Leggate, Brisbane, Australia: "I would like to offer my deepest condolences to Amy's family and friends. All our thoughts are with you on this tragic day. To Lorian, Alexis, Katie, Louise and Kat, I wish you all a quick and full recovery. Our thoughts are with you too."
Steve Farris, Tech Director Tour of the Gila, New Mexico, USA: "Tears are flowing down my cheeks. I've long admired the women of the AIS teams, their spirit and their teamwork are examples to the rest of the sport and the world. This is simply put a tragedy. My heart goes out to the surviving riders and team members, their family and friends. I had hoped for great things from this new generation of AIS riders and am just in shock. To the family and friends of Amy Gillett there is nothing I can say that will remove the pain of this tragedy. I hope knowing that their pain is shared by the cycling family throughout the world will in some way ease it a bit. To the survivors, be strong, our thoughts and prayers are with you."
Keith Goldstein, New York, USA: "My deepest sympathies to Amy's family and all the best to the rest of the team. A horrendous sad tragedy.
"Living in New York City, there has been a 50% increase in cycling deaths over the last year caused by motor vehicles. These motorists were not even given tickets. A shame."
Alessandra Cappellotto, Italia: "To all the families and friends of Amy my sincere thoughts go out to you. This is really sad day for cycling!"
Steven Goldman, USA: "The Australian women's cycling team glorified all the great things that can be achieved: competitive success, camaraderie, a test of one's self. They epitomized the word 'champion'. This tragic accident leaves the world with nothing other than admiration and respect for Amy and her squad. I am sure they were working together, perfectly their streamline, drafting as a team when the accident occurred. It would not surprise me to learn that Amy had more concern for those who might have been on her wheel than for her own course. Amy was a champion in life and will long be remembered. For the rest of her injured team, I am sure they are champions, fighting to get heal. The love of cycling is not just the love of a bike, but the love of life, often best expressed on two wheels. I am sure the rest of the world joins together in extending our prayers for the team, and for Amy and her family."
Roger Lynn, Colorado, USA: "Cyclists throughout the world send their condolences and wishes for quick recoveries to the women and their families and friends. May those who are gone be forever remembered for their smiles and achievements. May those injured recover quickly and join us in the saddle again soon."
Alan Moore, Bossier City, Louisiana, USA: "It is with such sorrow to hear about this tragedy. I have developed my own personal ties to Australia in recent years and had begun to really follow the riders of that country. My prayers are with the ladies and their families, and when I ride this evening I will be thinking of them all."
Alexander Ioannidis, Athens, Greece: "My sincerest condolences to Amy's family & friends. Words cannot describe the impact this will have on all who loved her. My best of wishes to the rest of the girls, I wish them a fast & full recovery."
Bob Aldridge, SupaCycling magazine: "The South African cycling community joins with our Aussie friends in expressing our huge sadness at the loss of Amy, and our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.
"The cycling world is appalled at this tragedy and we hope that all the other girls involved recover perfectly and go on to a happy and fulfilling life.
"It is indeed a terrible thing which has happened, but Advance Australia Fair, you have a worldwide family which weeps with you."
Melissa Sanborn, Subway Pro Cycling Team, Salem, OR USA: "I met Amy and some of her AIS teammates overseas last year racing in Europe. She was so full of life and it is with such sorrow to hear of this tragedy and read of carnage that struck our sport yesterday. My sincere condolences to all those affected by this unthinkable, unimaginable event. I hope the girls remaining in hospital recover well and that you persevere and come back to the great sport of cycling."
Laura Weislo & The BMW-Bianchi Women's Cycling Team: "Our deepest condolences go out to Amy's family, friends, teammates and the entire AIS staff, and our thoughts and prayers are with the women who are fighting to recover from their injuries. The women's racing community is made up of some of the toughest ladies on earth - we know they'll have the strength to get through this."
Gabrielle Murphy. A.I.S. Massage Therapist 2003/04: "My deepest sympathy to Amy's husband, family and friends. Always a lovely lady off the bike, tough and gritty sportswoman on the bike, and never failed to light up any room with her big smile. Great to work with throughout 2003/04. My thoughts and prayers are with you and all the other members of the squad both past and present, and Wazza and all A.I.S staff."
Andrea Covi, Italy: "I have a 7 year old child that is starting to race in these weeks, and it’s so beautiful to see his smile when is spinning his legs to try to win his early sprints.
"I hope that Amy relatives can find in their memories such kind of pictures to make a so terrible moment a little bit less painful.
Nick Rosenthal, UK: "I was stunned to read the terrible news from Germany. To think that just a few short months ago I was taking pics of Alexis on the track in Manchester.
"Those of us in the cycling world in Britain are thinking good thoughts for them."
John Picken, UK: "What can I say. I clicked on the news item carnage in Germany because it sounded serious. What a nightmare. It is the horror of all group rides. That it should happen to the best, the future hopes and so young, a close team who have all lived and strived together. My tears just flowed. My prayers and thoughts go to all: the injured, their families, to all at AIS but especially to Amy's family and Simon.
"Perhaps over the next months Cycling News can let us now how the injured are coping. Their inuries sound horrendous. It will be a long hard road. They will need all the strength they have and all the support they can be given."
Pam Collie, Virginia, USA: "I would like to send my thoughts and prayers to the friends and families of those affected by this tragedy. As an American recreational cyclist and mother, this news is difficult to hear."
Christel Herremans, sportdirector, Vlaanderen/Caprisonne/T interim, Belgium: "I have no words for this. I couldn't believe what they told me on the phone, this unbelievable news. I was the whole day sick from it. To all the people who knew Amy, in the first place the parents, husband, family and all the people who had to go through, I send them my deepest sympathy."
Evan Pilkington, New Zealand: "My heartfelt sympathies go out to Amy's family for their tragic loss. Amy was a great rider and great person. To Katie, Lorian, Kate, Alexis and Louise, I wish you all the best. I hope you have a quick recovery and stay safe."
Mathias Bach, Erfurt, Germany: "As a sportsman who grew up and still lives in the region of Thuringia where they came for racing and this terrible accident occurred I would like to express my deepest sympathy to Amy Gillett's family and friends. My thoughts and those of my friends are with you and also with the girls involved in this tragedy: Katie, Lorian, Kate, Alexis and Louise, their families and friends. I like you to know that you have got friends all around the world! If there is anything I can do for you here in Germany, please, do not hesitate to let me know. And I like to encourage especially you, girls: Keep fighting and win this probably hardest race!"
Brian Hammond, former Victorian Road Champion, Australia: "This is a very sad day for cycling world wide.
"My deepest sympathy to all the girls and family. I have been there before with my cycling mates who have gone the same way but cycling will win."
Darren Kelly, Australian Defence Force Cycling Team: "My condolences go to Amy's husband and her family. And to the rest of the AIS girls I hope you have a speedy recovery and display the fighting spirit for which Australian Athletes are renowned for. As ancient Egyptians used to say for their kings, lets not remember how Amy Gillet died. Lets remember how she lived - that's how her name and fighting spirit will never be forgotten."
Katheryn Curi, Webcor Builders Women's Elite Cycling Team: "I know that you have been flooded with e-mails about the tragic death of Amy and the serious condition of her teammates. With that being said, I still write wanting to send out my thoughts and well wishes.
"Tears flood my eyes upon seeing the horrific photos of the accident and I do not even want to imagine the hell that all those women went through. As a cyclist, I put my life on the line every time I swing my leg over my bike and head out onto the roads. I do my best not to think about the 1,000 things that "could" happen to me and instead am calmed by the feeling of doing what I love - riding and racing my bike.
"The women (and men) of the AIS have always set such a high standard of excellence in sport and the cyclists even a higher one. I only briefly met Amy when I raced at the Tour de L'Aude this past May and the first thing that struck me about her was her great smile and infectious laugh. Yet, upon meeting the other Australian riders, I found this to be the norm. They are a hard racing group but also amazing women off the bike.
"Please pass on my message to the AIS team as I want them to know that there is another person out there thinking of them!"
Oliver Portway, President, Norwood Cycling Club, Adelaide, Australia: "I cannot remember a blacker day for Australian Cycling than this terrible tragedy. The sadness I feel is indescribable. On behalf of the Norwood Cycling Club I would like to extend our deepest condolences and sympathy to Amy's family and friends for their loss. Although I didn't know Amy personally, I followed her meteoric rise to the elite levels of women's cycling with awe and admiration. Amy was a truly great person and an inspiration to all. The club is honoured to have had Amy as a member. Our hopes and thoughts are also with the survivors for their recovery. Alexis Rhodes is a current member of our club. All club members will be directly affected by this tragedy."
Mrs Berny Profit, Beyond the Threshold MTB club, UK: "A terrible appalling tragedy. A sad sad day. Our hearts go out to all involved.
"On behalf of Beyond the Threshold MTB club, please could you forward our deepest sympathy and prayers to the girls and there family and team members. Rest in Peace."
Christine Riakos, Former AIS cyclist: "My deepest sympathy to Simon, Amy’s family and Amy’s many many friends. Amy was such a fun and happy person whom I both admired and loved. She achieved so much in her life. She showed amazing strength and talent on the bike, and it was a pleasure racing with and against her. Amy displayed such a genuine love of life that you could not help love life right along with her when she was around. Amy - We will all miss you and that smile of yours."
To Kate, Katie, Louise, Lorian and Alexis: "We are thinking of you during this terrible time. Be strong and make a speedy recovery."
Mike Cromwell, Adelaide. South Australia: "Although I never had the privilege of knowing Amy, I followed her career with interest since my wife, Barbara, and daughter Tiffany first met her in Queensland 3 years ago. She has been an inspiration and role model for Tiffany as has Alexis. Our sincere sympathy and best wishes to the Safe family and wish Alex and the other girls a speedy recovery."
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