By Mal Sawford
Only a handful of women have attempted, and completed Australia's infamous "Warny" (Melbourne to Warrnambool). Former Australian Champion Olivia Gollan, currently riding for the German Nürnberger team, can now be added to that select list, after finishing the 2005 edition strongly in the main chase group around 30 minutes behind race winner Jonas Ljungblad of Sweden.
Cyclingnews caught up with Olivia moments after she had completed the epic 299 kilometre race, as she retrieved a damaged wheel from the commissaires, and asked what had prompted her to tackle an event three times longer than most women's events.
OG: I've ridden the Grafton to Inverell before, and I just wanted to do the Melbourne to Warrnambool as well. After World's I had a fortnight off the bike, and I didn't really want to have a full month, or five weeks, off the bike in one shot, so I got back on the bike for a couple of weeks, and now I'm going to have another week off and just stagger my 'offy' (off season) like that. I've has a really good day actually. It's been fun."
CN: How did the intensity compare to your usual races?
OG: I was so lucky, like I'm lucky to have started today rather than into a howling headwind with pouring rain or something. There was not that much wind today, and actually it wasn't that intense - it was a long race. For me it wasn't a particularly hard race, just a long time on the bike, the longest I've ever ridden.
CN: And you also had mechanical problems?
OG: I broke a spoke at about the 240km mark, so I got another wheel and got back on, so that was cool. I think the boys kind of waited for me a little bit, so that was good.