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The AIS Women's Team Diary 2006

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The 2006 AIS women's squad in Italy
Photo: © AIS

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. 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 programme was suspended.

But this year the AIS women are back. While surviving members of last year's team - Louise Yaxley, Katie Brown and Lorian Graham recover from injuries sustained in the accident last July, another generation of young women will endeavour to make a mark on the international stage.

Alexis Rhodes makes a return to racing following her remarkable recovery from life-threatening injuries sustained in last July's crash, being joined by Amanda Spratt, Hannah Banks, Candice Sullivan, Jenny Macpherson and Sally Cowman as they fly the Aussie flag in Europe.

Also see: Index to 2005 race reports and entries

Switzerland/Italy, May 5, 2006

Right in the swing

Swiss world cup and GP Liberazione reports

By Sally Cowman and Candice Sullivan

Ciao all!

Here I am to tell you about my first time in Switzerland and my first European world cup round. We headed off on a three hour drive from Italy which ended up being double time with the traffic banked up going into a 20km tunnel;;this made for some serious team bonding time whether we wanted it or not! We got there finally and settled in with a nice meal, and looked forward to the race the next day.

We woke to a beautiful sunny day just the way us Aussies like it, kitted up and headed down to the race start. It included six laps of a 20.8km circuit with a 1.5km climb each lap. The race got underway and right from the go it was lined up in the gutter. There were 162 starters today so we were all mainly focusing on staying up the front especially right before the climb.

I found it quite easy to stay in the top 20 riders but Hannah (Banks) isn't as experienced in the massive bunches yet, and found herself near the back for the first climb, got caught behind some dodgy riders and couldn't bridge back to the front group. We were down to four. The pace just did not ease the whole race and I could not see the other gals; we were halfway through and Candice came up and said Alex and Amanda weren’t with the front group any longer. Alex is doing so well just to be racing at this level already, and her recovery is getting better all the time now. Spratty, our baby of the team, is gaining so much experience which will be so valuable to her in the future with all that talent she has.

On the second last time up the climb a group of about 15 riders went up the road - T-Mobile brought the gap back just before we got the bell for one lap to go. Candice had been caught behind a bad crash by this time so it was left up to me for the team. The last two laps were so hard but I made it over the last climb and I was in the main bunch for the finish. It spilt on the last climb with 17 riders going clear. Oenone had yet another great ride, placing second. I came in sixth in the bunch sprint and placed 23rd in the race so I was pretty happy for my first European world cup. It was just great to race against that type of field. Our next race is Liberazione on Tuesday the 25th so one of the other gals will let you in on how that goes.

Until next time,
Sally C


Not a lot to say about GP Liberazione...12 x 10km laps, completely flat with a section that fitted two riders across for about 1km. As you can imagine that was the most exciting bit of the race as it was an all out sprint to be first to it and with ditches on either side there was no room to move up. So a lot of crashes were expected and at one stage I had half my bike hanging off the edge into the ditch so that was quite scary. Otherwise there was a massive crash with 2k to go at about 20th wheel taking out poor little spratt. I am pleased to report tho that just she has just a few grazes and will back in no time. Apart from a big result this was the first time we all felt comfortable in the bunch and the team work thing is starting to take shape. It was so exciting to see four aussies jerseys in the top 20! So hey bit by bit we are getting there.

Unfortunately we have no racing for two weeks, just some serious training for the Tour de L'Aude. I was given a sneak peek at the first few stages...No 1.:a 28km T.T.T with a 5km climb in it (painful but we will survive). No 2: 115km with 20km category 1 climb and 10km Hors Cat - I have told Stu (our mechanic) that I am to have a 27 no matter what James Victor (our DS) says!

See you soon,