By John Flynn
Perhaps the most inspiring story to emerge from the three-day Geelong Tour, won yet again by Oenone Wood, was the performance of New South Wales Institute of Sport cyclist Kate Nichols.
A member of the A.I.S. team involved in last July's tragedy in Germany, Nichols' return to racing continues to build momentum and there was no wiping the smile from her face after claiming one of the intermediate sprints during the final stage.
"I've been really pleased with the tour I think it's my best ever," a beaming Nichols told Cyclingnews. "I'm stoked with how I went in the prologue and I was up there in the crit. In a few road stages I picked up a few sprint points just to try and move up a few places on G.C. and finish in that top ten."
It's been a huge week for the young Australian who is still getting used to competing with Olympic and World Championships and more to the point being up there with them on the road.
"Obviously it's their off season but it's amazing to be amongst them," Nichols said. "I had a go in all areas of the racing, I'm in amongst it and I'm looking forward to the World Cup. Hopefully it'll be tough because that's how I like it."
Fellow A.I.S. cyclist Alexis Rhodes will also compete in Sunday's Geelong World Cup after enjoying a mixed bag in the three day Geelong Tour.
Today's final stage turned out to be a hard day at the office for the South Australian, whose comeback to the sport has already brought a national criterium championship and medals at the recent national track championships.
"Yesterday was not a bad day for me, today I had a bit of bad luck," Rhodes said. "Someone ran into my rear wheel and pushed it into my frame and I thought I'd broken a spoke, so I sort of stopped and fixed it up. Got back on, then I punctured at the bottom of the hill."
As one of the senior Australian rider in the peloton sees it, the likes of Alexis Rhodes and Kate Nichols can only benefit from racing the Geelong Tour and Geelong World Cup.