Australian team rider Amy Gillett dead after crash

Australian rider Amy Gillett has died after she and five other riders from the Australian women's...

Australian rider Amy Gillett has died after she and five other riders from the Australian women's team were hit by a car during a training ride in Germany on Monday. Three other team members are reported to be in critical condition after being helicoptered to hospital, and the remaining two are also still in hospital, albeit with less serious injuries. The other riders involved are Katie Brown, Lorian Graham, Kate Nichols, Alexis Rhodes and Louise Yaxley. All are being treated in hospitals in Leipzig and Zwickau; Rhodes, Yaxley and Brown are believed to be the most seriously injured.

The team was riding along the Landstrasse between Zeulenroda and Auma (Kreis Greiz), reconnoitering the course of the opening time trial of the Thueringen Rundfahrt stage race which was scheduled to start today. A car driven by an 18-year woman skidded off the right hand side of the road and overcorrected getting back onto the tarmac. The driver, who had passed her test just four weeks before, apparently lost control of the car and crossed into the lane where the team was riding, hitting all six riders.

The first stage of the Thueringen Rundfahrt has been cancelled. A service of commemoration will be held instead.

Many of the riders involved in the crash - particularly Alexis Rhodes, Kate Nichols, and Katie Brown - are protégés of Australian junior team coach Gary Sutton who is already involved in arranging for the families of injured riders to travel to Germany to be with their loved ones.

Clearly shaken by the news, which has shocked the closely-knit Australian cycling community, Sutton did not want to talk at length about the tragedy, but did say, "You're never prepared for something like this. Amy was such a lovely person. This is going to have an enormous effect on everyone who knew her."

Australian prime minister John Howard has expressed his sympathy for Amy Gillett's family and the families of the injured riders, according to AAP. "I would like to express my great sadness about the terrible accident which has affected the Australian women's cycling team in Germany," Mr Howard said in Washington.

"It's one of those awful tragedies. On an occasion like this when an accident occurs overseas, it's always I guess in a starker situation and the shock is greater," he said.

"I extend my condolences and sincere thoughts to all of those who have been affected."

The families would be given financial assistance, Mr Howard said.

Born Amy Safe in Adelaide, South Australia on January 9, 1976, Amy Gillett was a succesful rower, representing Australia in the women's eight at Atlanta in 1996. She was not selected for the 2000 Games rowing team, and so turned to cycling. Winning the 2002 national pursuit championship, she progressed rapidly and concentrated on the track World Cup series in 2002 and 2003, before shifting focus to the road in 2004.

Amy Gillett was married to her former rowing coach Simon and was studying for a PhD. In her personal bio in the AIS women's team diary on Cyclingnews, she listed her ambitions for 2005 as "To master the art of time trialling, actually commence my PhD, and most importantly to give my husband plenty of loving."

Everyone at Cyclingnews sends our condolences to Amy's family and friends.

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