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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 21, 2005
More tributes to Amy Gillett - part 3
Since the tragic news broke Tuesday morning 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.)
May Britt Hartwell, Norway: "I would like to add my deepest condolence to the AIS women’s team for their loss of Amy Gillett. This is a tragedy that words can not describe. All we can pray for is for the girls to fight through their injuries and for their families, friends and cycling community to support them in the weeks to follow to get over this sad time of life. I feel so sorry for Amy and her closest family, all my thoughts and prayers goes to you all in this though time. My self being a mother of two and being hit hard twice by a car, I know this is not easy to overcome as a parent or close family member, but try to bring all the good about Amy out to the world around you. Reading her story as a rower and now cyclist and looking at her pictures, she must have been a wonderful person to everyone. Let her name shine in good memories!
"In memory of Amy and her team mates, my team Diet Cheerwine and hopefully everyone taking part in Tour de Altoona, USA July 24-31 will wear a pink ribbon with AIS written on.
"Please hang in there girls, we will be thinking of you!"
Robyn Lindner, Albury, NSW, Australia: "It was a terrible shock to hear of this tragic accident in Germany and I would like to express my deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Amy Gillett and the other injured riders from the Australian team. My son is a cyclist and is at present competing in the Tour of Qinghai Lake in China and I know the shockwaves and sadness has filtered through to the teams there also.
"As a parent of a cyclist this is your worst nightmare. I can understand the sadness of those who are close to these girls from the wonderful tributes that have been sent. May they all have the strength to recover and be able to continue to achieve in their chosen sport.
"It is great to witness the close-knit community of cycling. Best wishes to all the other team members and to their support team (including 'Nico' - thinking of you at this time)."
Dean Moffit Victoria, B.C. Canada: "AGAIN, another terrible day for the cycling community the world over! Sincere sympathy and best wishes for the family and friends of Amy. To the rest of the team, be well!"
Stephen Rossendell, Tasmania, Australia: "Beyond comprehension. This is without a doubt truly one of the saddest events ever to rock the world of cycling, I cannot begin to portray my deepest most profound sympathies to all involved.
"The loss of such a beautiful woman and such an enormous talent will be with us forever, keep on riding Amy, you will be missed by so many people. Rest in peace Amy.
"To the five others seriously injured our thoughts are with you and your families always, In particular Louise Yaxley, a fellow Taswegian and her parents Brian and Annette, Louise and I have shared many laughs and good times on our trips as part of state teams, and I look forward to sharing many more upon your return home. Also to Katie Brown and her family my thoughts are with you wishing you a speedy recovery, although we haven't spoken much recently I cherish my friendship with you Katie and wish you well.
"Also to Lorian Graham, Alexis Rhodes and Kate Nichols I wish you all speedy recoveries and once again my thoughts are with all of you and your families, keep fighting on."
Rich Land, Mosquito Bikes, England: "Even though I did not know Amy or any of the Team I feel great sadness as a member of the cycling family has passed away.
"My thoughts and prayers go with you. I hope all the other girls make a swift recovery."
Andrew Perks UB West Vic Academy of Sport: "I was numbed to hear the tragic news about Amy Gillett and the girls in the Australian cycling team. After also representing Australia at "another sport" and then taking up the beautiful sport of cycling with the Ballarat Cycling Club I know the difficulty in switching sports and the dedication which Amy showed. My thoughts and sympathies go out to all the families and loved ones affected."
Phill Bates AM, President St George Cycling Club & Cycling Promoter: "When you love and promote the virtues of our sport, nothing can be more cruel than to see the waste of a wonderful life and other girls hospitalised and badly injured from such a tragic accident.
"I did not know Amy that well but I do remember her kindness, her charm, and her appreciation when having staged several events that she competed in. It was so much appreciated then and even much more now.
"I am aware even more now the impact that this horrific accident has had on the close knit world of Australian and International cycling and their team mates.
"To Simon and the family and friends, we send our deepest condolences.
"To Louise, Alexis, Lorian and our two club members Katie and Kate, all members of the club send out best wishes for a full recovery.
"And thanks also to the wonderful work of the medical staff of Germany. It is so much appreciated."
Matt Bazzano, Shimano Australia: "So sudden, so unexpected, so sad, so tragic. Our thoughts and prayers are with the girl's, their families, their friends, AIS staff and cycling team members trying to cope and carry on during this terrible time. To all, be strong - have courage."
Jennifer Manefield, Former AIS cyclist: "Deepest sympathy to Amy's family, friends and especially to Simon. Witnessing the love you both shared and your dedication to one another was a real joy, witnessing Amy as a professional at work both on and off the bike was an inspiration.
"Sympathy also to the girls who remain in hospital - Kate, Lorian, Katie, Alexis and Louise - we are with you and willing you on every step of the way. Thoughts also to the AIS staff. We have every reason to believe the girls are receiving the very best of care and that you will continue to do an amazing job - you always have and always will."
Pia Sundstedt and Sanna Lehtimäki, former pro cyclists, Finland: "On behalf of all the members of Finland’s Cycling Union we want to express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Amy Gillett. We would also like to wish the best and speedy recoveries to the rest of the team. And to the coach Warren McDonald and the other team staff: Be strong!"
Cilla Ballard and George Bunt, ACT Academy formally coached by Warren MacDonald: "Our deepest sympathy is extended to Amy's family and to the families of the girls injured. This is indeed a tragedy of the worst kind.
"Our heart and any support we can provide goes out to Wazza, who will be devastated by the accident. Seeing it helplessly unfold before your eyes is unbearable. Wazza is a great coach and a wonderful, kind and caring man who has done so much for many people including George."
Ben Day, Mr.Bookmaker.com-Sportstech: "Since yesterday I have sat here stunned, not being able to comprehend what has happened. I was privileged enough to have spent dinner with the girls earlier this year in Belgium and it amazed me the level of camaraderie amongst the girls, Wazza and everyone else who was involved with their success and adventures. There were always plenty of laughs and it was true what everyone has said about Amy's smile. I extend my deepest condolences out to all these people and Amy's family and friends. It kind of brings everything crashing back into perspective doesn't it? To all the girls, you are all in our hearts and thoughts and I wish you a successful recovery."
Simon Sostaric, Cycling Physiologist & Coach, Victoria Australia: "Condolences to the Gillett and Safe families, and countless friends, family, and supporters of all concerned. Lets hope those injured make a full, speedy recovery. Best Wishes"
Peter York, Toowoomba, Australia: "The world we live in has many different worlds within itself. My world is the cycling community. There are kids, commuters, mtbers, bmx, eccentrics, mums & dads, high fliers, roadies and many more lovers of bikes & who have a passion for cycling. Well people, on Monday we lost Amy; o next time you go out for a pedal, be safe and have a ride for Amy."
Caitlin Fraser, Australia: "To Simon and the Safe family my deepest sympathies. Amy was lovely and amazing, she was so passionate about her sport, her family, friends, and most of all Mr Gillett. When most people would have quit, Amy faced her challenges with determination, optimism and a wicked sense of humor. We'll miss you Betty.
"Thoughts and prayers to the girls who are recovering."
Dirk Van Hove, Destelbergen, Belgium: "As a big supporter of everything what has to do with Australian cycling for more than 20 years, this is the worst day ever. When I heard the bad news the world stopped. This shouldn't have happened.
"To the family of Amy, please accept my condolences. We can only hope the best for Kate, Lorian, Louise, Katie and Alexis. Don't give up now! This is going to be a long and hard race!"
Tom Ward, Perth, Australia: "As an Ex – UK Pro Cyclist, who migrated to Australia some 7 years ago, the thought of the accidents that can occur are placed firmly in the back of your mind, as are the usual troubles of life as you spin those pedals and enjoy the life of being on two wheels.
"Only recently I have got to know Chuckles (through a friend of Katie and Graeme Brown) and have seen her infectious personality and amazing laugh. To imagine the hurt, both physically and emotionally that all these riders, their loved ones and fellow athletes, are feeling bring tears to my eyes. To hear that Lance Armstrong expressed his condolences to both Robbie and Stuart at the TDF, is a mark of the devastation to the whole of cycling that this devastating accident has caused."
Roland Toder, Germany: "As a great friend of Australia and the Australian people, I am utterly shocked about what happened in the region of Thuringia, Germany. I am frequently in Melbourne and also lived there several years. Therefore I am familiar with the home area of Amy Gillet and the spirit of Australian sportsmen and sportswomen. This is a terrible tragedy. I would like to express my deepest sympathy to Amy's family and friends. My thoughts are also with her team-mates suffering dreadful injuries, as well as their families."
David Lombari, Addiscombe Cycling Club, London, UK: "Yet another sad day in the cycling community. Nobody's life is more valuable than anyone else's, but we feel it more when it's someone who shares the two-wheeled passion.
"Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with all those involved and their families and friends."
Per Jonsson, Örnsköldsvik, Sweden: "I was devastated and deeply saddened by the news that Amy Gillet has passed away. My thoughts are with her family and friends, and I am also thinking about her team members who were injured in this tragic accident.
"Farewell, Amy... You were, no... you are a wonderful woman! Now everyone up in Heaven will be able to see your beautiful smile.
"As long as someone remembers you, you will live on. And you will never be forgotten, so you will live forever!
"Take care, Amy."
Sally and Stephen Holt, New Zealand: "Our deepest sympathy to Amy's husband family and friends. Meshy met Amy several times but got to know her on the last tour and spoke so highly of her, as she did the rest of the girls. We hope they recover quickly."
Skye-Lee Armstrong, New South Wales, Australia: "As a young Australian cyclist who is just about to fly out to junior worlds. I would just like to express my feelings for Amy's family and friends. Even though I've only meet Amy couple of times. Just talking to her those couple of times she seemed the most loving and kind person.
"As a young female cyclist I looked up to all of the six riders. Hoping one day I would get overseas to race with them all. I'm very sad that I won't get to know Amy better but I can tell every she won't be forgotten.
"As we race at junior worlds we all will be rider for you Amy.
"As I know Alexis, Katie Brown and Katie Nichols a bit better I hope to see you all at home soon looking well. To Alexis and Katie Brown you girls are very strong girls you both well make it though this very sad and bad time. GET BETTER GIRLS."
Dino Gerst, Düsseldorf, Germany (near Büttgen): "I trained a lot with the Australian Team and have known most of them for many, many years. I've never seen so happy, friendly people in a Team, living like a family together like the Oz did it in Büttgen. They came from far away each year with Charlie Walsh since 1984 I guess.
"They shared their passion. They worked together and they all dreamed the same dream. They trained every day on German roads during these times. Like that day...
"I really don't know what to say. I'm so shocked. All the papers are full of the pictures from that bad day.
"Amy-I believe you are an Angel now watching all the other cyclists all over the world.
"I feel very sorry for the family and her friends. The very best wishes to all the other girls."
Nisa Schebella, Beaumont, South Australia: "The shockwaves of sadness keep coming as the reality of this tragedy comes home. My deepest condolences to Simon and Amy's family and friends, my prayers to Alex and Katie to pull through the critical stages and for the other girls to be strong and focused on getting through this dark night of the soul in our community. My thoughts go out to all friends and family and to the team members and staff in Germany.
"Driving along the Adelaide hills roads today I passed at least half a dozen women cyclists enjoying the weather and the beauty of the sport of cycling...it gladdened my heavy heart. Amy's gorgeous smile and personality was so beautiful, like was a warm breeze. She was a bright star in our sport and died living her dream. May she rest in peace."
Liz Tadich, Former Australian National Team Cyclist: "I am lost for words as to what to say... this is such a sad and tragic accident, a freak event.
"I would like to start by sending my condolences to Amy's family and friends she was a beautiful and talented person, the news of her death left me feeling sick, she will be missed.
"I would also like to send all my positive energy to Alexis and Louise "keep fighting girls".
"Finally I would like to send my love to Lorian, Katie, Kate and Wazza, I am thinking of you in these trying times - "Stay strong".
"All my love."
Arwen Cunneen, Melbourne: "Although I didn't know Amy personally, I was a lightweight rower from The Adelaide Rowing Club and shared West Lakes with her during the 90's.
"I certainly do remember that smile of Amy Safe and am dreadfully saddened to hear of this tragic event. Deepest sympathy to Simon Gillett and Amy's family and friends."
M. and J. Landry, Quebec, Canada: "Having been close to cycling for the last 20 years in our part of the world, the news of this tragic accident saddens us immensely.
"Be assured of our thoughts and prayers. To Amy's husband, relatives, friends, our sincere condolences. To the injured cyclists, their parents and friends, courage."
Rachel Burke, photographer: "A tragedy that words cannot describe. My heartfelt condolences to Amy's family and friends, may her memory live on forever and her achievements be a life long inspiration to others.
"My thoughts and prayers are with the families of Alexis Rhodes, Katie Brown, Lorian Graham, Kate Nichols and Louise Yaxley."
John Thompson-Mills, ABC radio: "On behalf on everyone connected with ABC Radio Sport, sincere condolences to the Safe/Gillett families and friends.
"For the other five girls, we wish you all a speedy and full recovery.
"God willing, one day soon you'll be able to take your rightful places in the peloton and with her spirit and power joining yours, win some races in Amy's memory."
Shaun Lewis, Adelaide: "As there is nothing that we can do, but sit in front of the television and watch the horrendous scenes in front of us. I thought I might as well "put down on paper" what stands out in my mind the most when remembering that team only two months ago.
"As part of the 'AIS Mapei Aqua Mountain bike squad' that lived in Italy earlier this year I was privileged enough to train and hang out with the other AIS athletes, whether they be road or track riders. I must Admit that the Women's road squad sure does know how to live, laugh and ride.
"They instantly made you feel welcome with beaming smiles and bad jokes when you went to their house. The girls were there doing what they loved, and you could feel that straight away through the way they spoke and acted, They were professional about they way they conducted themselves on and off the bike, but also knew how to have fun, and that is their greatest attribute.
"The girls as individuals are stars, but as a team they shine brighter than all the stars put together. And as far as I'm concerned they always will."
Nic Brown, Former AIS and MG X Power-Bigpond Rider, Perth, Australia: "This is a very heartfelt tragedy and I'd like to express my deepest sympathy to Amy's family and everyone who were honored to have known her, for the loss of an amazing, bright and bubbly, ambitious champion that she was.
"My thoughts and prays are with all the girls who have been injured, and their families, and I know you are all the strongest of champions and I wish you all the speediest recovery. You'll all be back. That's what the Australian Women's Cycling Team is all about, sticking together and staying strong. The world all over look up to all you girls and everyone involved in such an awesome organisation.
"The cycling community worldwide are behind you girls and your families. May Amy rest in peace"
Andrew Walsh, former manager NRCC, Queensland, Australia: "My sympathies go out to all the girls and their families. The harsh realities of cycling and its risks sometimes pass us by but unexplainable instances like these shock us all. At this time we can only be strong and continue to be a part of the sport that has created so many ups and downs, and so many precious memories."
Sharon Murcott, Flynn Moore and Rob Moore, UK: "Thoughts and wishes from Solihull CC and fellow Aussies abroad."
Team Saccarelli Emu, Italy: "We send our condolences and sympathies. Rest in peace, Amy. Trust in God, Kate, Louise, Alexis, Katie and Lorian."
Jeff Hunston, Yukon, Canada: "This is such a terribly saddening, tragic and huge loss for everyone. I am not a cyclist but I enjoy observing the sport and watching some events on the tele. We have a major International bike relay here every summer - from Haines Junction, Yukon, Canada to Haines, Alaska, USA which is hugely popular and a focal point of the local cycling calendar. I was in Australia last summer (Aussie winter) beginning a fundraising walk across Aussie for the Rose Charity. I had the opportunity to absorb the Aussie Olympic experience via the Aussie media. I was in Sydney and had the opportunity to view the welcoming home celebration for the impressive Aussie Olympic team. Although the Canadian performance was disappointing it was very good to see the Aussies come through with particularly impressive performances. It was really good to see individual atheletes raise their game and performance levels to personal bests and beyond - but I was more impressed by how it was done and by the personal character traits that were in evidence. Lots of style, grace and substantive sportsmanship. And some wicked Aussie humour to boot. It was excellent to see the Aussie cyclists break new ground and achieve impressive results by dint of an unrelenting spirit, work ethic and determination.
"I think Amy clearly was going to extend this tradition into the future. She obviously exemplified all that is so good about Aussies. These Aussie women are cut from some different and really good cloth - and good role models for young women wherever they are - including my 12 year old. The world is going to be so much poorer for her passing. But she will not be forgotten - her spirit will carry on and motivate each new young Aussie youth who hops on a bike and sets off down a patch of country or urban road in Victoria, NSW, ACT, Queensland, etc. Honor her - she was an amazing athlete, cyclist and Australian woman. I will. I will be soon doing an ascent of Mt. Australia and had plans to leave some Aussie cultural items (mostly humorous ones) on top of this iconic spire but will now look at putting in small cairn deposit with some items in her memory. This seems fitting that some green and gold be in evidence at the top of this mountain. It overlooks the Klondike goldfields and was named in honor of Aussie individuals who participated in the Klondike gold rush of 1898. The waters of Australia Creek source on its southward facing slopes. Further to the northwest lies the smaller rise of Australia Hill.
"Heartfelt sympathy from myself and Scott and Kira to her husband, family and mates. We hope and pray for the speedy recovery of her cycling mates and know they will come back an even more formidable force in the future to make their mark and honor her memory. That is the Aussie way.
"May you all find some peace in these troubling times and in the memories of an amazing and good person whose short life was lived so well. We were all blessed by her presence and the touching of so many lives."
Paul & Manuela Larivière-Muyldermans, Mechelen, Belgium: "We send our sincerest condolences to the family and many friends and share in the deep sorrow which is caused by this tragic accident. Let us pray for Amy and her loved ones and hope they can find the strength to cope with this unexpected loss. With our warmest sympathy."
Mark Legg, USA Cycling Team Operations Equipment Manager & Mechanic, Tour de l’Aude: "I wish to pass along my deepest sympathies for Amy and her loved ones. This is truly a tragedy for so many of us. I had the pleasure to watch Amy and the rest of the wonderful Aussie girls racing on both the road and the track. They proudly represented Australia in a way that the nation will be hugely proud of.
"All of us here at USA cycling have all of the girls in our thoughts. It brings tears to my eyes every time I think of the them and the struggles they are facing.
"Be strong, we are with you."
Richard Geist on behalf of The International Tour de Toona: "The International Tour de Toona joins the world cycling community in mourning the loss of Amy Gillett. Her loss, and the injuries suffered by her teammates, serves to remind us all how fragile life can be, and how strong the fellowship of the cycling community is. As we bond in grief, let us daily remember to cherish our relationships with each other, and to celebrate them joyfully."
Clay Moseley, former U. S. cyclist and current triathlete: "To Amy Gillett's family, all of the injured members of the Australian women's team, their families and all of their fans:
"News of this very sad and tragic event has reached far and wide. Our local cycling and triathlon clubs here in Northern New Mexico have all heard news of this and we're all very sorry for the loss of Amy and the injuries sustained by her teammates. We hope the team members all have quick recoveries and will be back to competition soon. We will also be thinking of Amy and her family during this very difficult time, keeping them all in our thoughts and prayers.
" Again, our deepest sympathies to Amy's family and friends, and best wishes to her injured teammates..."
Thomas Joynt, secretary, Northern Sydney Cycling Club: "The Northern Sydney Cycling Club would like to offer our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Amy and the AIS Women's Cycling Team. We are all shocked and saddened by what has occurred in Germany and we wish for the full recovery of the AIS team members who are in hospital, all our thoughts are with you."
Jon Jordan, Bicyclegroup.com: "The thoughts and prayers of all of us at Bicyclegroup.com are with Amy Gillett’s family. Be strong. The world has lost a great cyclist and we will miss her."
Michael Hopkins, Bicyclegroup.com: "On behalf of the BicycleGroup.com family, I would like to extend our sympathy to Amy Gillett's family, her teammates and bicycling in general.
"This is a remarkably sad day for cycling."
Frank Villevoye, Marco Polo Cycling Club, Netherlands: "Our thoughts are with all the families and friends of every rider and especially Amy Gillet. And we hope so very much for a full recovery of the other riders."
Judy Bates, Parramatta Cycling Club: "It is a sad day for the cycling world that this tragic accident has occurred. Many members of Parramatta Cycling Club know some or all the girls involved and many have competed with or against them at all levels of competition. Our Club members are deeply saddened by this tragedy. Two of our members Natalie Bates and Kate Bates spoke at the memorial service for Amy and were close friends.
"Parramatta Cycling Club members extend their condolences and deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Amy Gillett.
"To Alexis, Louise, Katie, Kate and Lorian and their families our thoughts and prayers are with you all as you deal with what has happened and wish you a full and speedy recovery. To the Australian Women cyclists who are in Germany and are trying to come to terms with this tragedy, our thoughts are with you."
Peter and Alba Young, Southern California, USA: "When something as tragic as this happens to a Cycling Brother or Sister it reverberates through the Hearts and minds of Cyclists world-wide. Please extend our sincerest sympathy not only to Amy's Family but to Her Fellow Team Members and their loved ones, may they find the strength to get through this. Even though we're far away we're with you and we feel very deeply for you."
Thom Edwards, vice president, Norwood cycling club, Adelaide: "On behalf of all at the Norwood cycling club I would like to offer our sincere condolences to Amys family and friends also speedy recovery to all of those injured in this terrible accident."
South Australian Cycling Federation: "On behalf of South Australian Cycling Federation, we would like to send our deepest sympathy to Simon, Amy's parents and friends Our thoughts and prayers are with Alexis, Louise, Katie, Lorian, Kate and their families and to all at AIS involved at this tragic time.
Steve Peterson, Administration Manager, CycleSport Victoria: "On behalf of the Board and staff of CycleSport Victoria we pass on our deepest condolences to the friends and family of Amy Gillett, especially to husband Simon. Our thoughts are also with Katie Brown, Lorian Graham, Kate Nichols, Alexis Rhodes and Louise Yaxley and their friends and families
"Amy has represented Victoria on several occassions with impressive results and we are proud to have had her ride in the Big V. A member of the Ballarat Sebastopol Cycling Club, she will always be remembered."
Stu Sanders, Former Cyclist, experience in dealings with cars and bikes, Ballarat, Australia: "Deepest sympathies to Amys husband Simon, family and closest friends, training and racing partners, coaches and staff from AIS. An unbelievable tragedy. We ride the roads knowing the dangers and accepting them because of our love for the sport. Amy loved this sport. Motorists world wide need to be educated about the rights a cyclist has in everyday cycling and during racing at such a high level. Lets start to educate them about us. This kind of thing should never happen to one so great. She will be sadly missed."
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