Preparations being made to take Amy Gillett home

Three days after the tragic accident which claimed the life of Amy Gillett and left five of her team-mates in hospital, her husband Simon Gillett has arrived in Germany to bring her remains back to Australia. According to a media update released today by Cycling Australia and the Australian Sports Commission, Mr Gillett and Rod Katz, the President of the Bicycle Federation of Australia who is travelling with him, were met at the airport by Cycling Australia National Performance Director, Shayne Bannan, the Australian Ambassador to Germany, Pamela Fayle and members of her staff and Australian Institute of Sport Counsellor, Ruth Anderson.

Lorna and Desley Graham, mother and sister of the injured rider Lorian Graham, were on the same flight. They were driven by the Ambassador to the Uni Klinik in Jena to see her.

Embassy staff and Ms Anderson have escorted Mr Gillett and Mr Katz to another hospital where Amy's body was taken after the accident. Mr Gillett has also visited the site of the tragedy where a simple wooden cross bearing his wife's name was placed by mourners during the memorial service

After Mr Gillett has seen her Amy's body will be transferred to Frankfurt in preparation for the flight back to Australia. Her casket will be draped with an Australian flag for the trip home on the weekend. Amy Gillett's (nee Safe) family have confirmed a funeral will be held for her in Ballarat next Friday July 29th followed by a memorial service. Further details will be published in next Wednesday's newspapers.

Mr Bannan says Mr Gillett was 'as you would expect after a tragedy like this' when he arrived in Germany.

"He's been through so much but Simon says he wants to visit the injured girls in hospital who were his wife's team mates and friends," said Mr Bannan. "He also wants to see some of other Australian riders who are here for the Thüringen Tour who have trained, travelled and raced with Amy over recent years as part of the Australian team.

Those riders include Sara Carrigan, Oenone Wood, Olivia Gollan, Emma Rickards, Rochelle Gilmore and sisters Kate and Natalie Bates who have been to the hospital several times to visit their injured compatriots.

Natalie Bates says everyone is pulling together and taking strength from each other.

"It's been amazing but that's not surprising because we are such a strong little family here in Europe," said Ms Bates. "We have a bit of a cry but then we have a bit of a laugh and we're supporting each other to get through this."

Ms Bates says she is encouraged by the resilience of her injured friends.

"They are so amazing and are being so strong, so brave and are talking a little bit about what's happened and about what they saw," said Ms Bates of Katie Brown, Kate Nichols and Lorian Graham who are sharing a room in the hospital which has become an Australian outpost. "There are so many people here now with the families and friends it's turned into a bit of a party which is keeping everyone's spirits up.

"We make sure they always have someone around to talk to and Katie Brown was even cracking her own jokes as they wheeled her back into the room yesterday after an arthroscopy," she said. "Her brother Graeme was telling bad jokes but it was a really positive experience to be there and it made us feel good afterwards."

Ms Bates says they have not yet been able to see the two riders who remain in intensive care, Alexis Rhodes, 20, and Louise Yaxley, 23, but they have seen Alexis' parents and that has helped.

"They were so strong and so positive. "We took strength from them and we are all optimistic about their recovery," said the Sydney cyclist and physiotherapist. "The hospital staff are great even when we walk in massive numbers, seven or eight of us at a time, they just work around us and are really welcoming and supportive.

"It's a really good hospital and the doctors and so competent so we're positive they are in good hands."

Australian Sports Commission Chairman, Peter Bartels, and Australian Institute of Sport Director, Professor Peter Fricker, met with doctors again tonight (AEST) to receive an update on Rhodes and Yaxley and report their condition is unchanged.

"It will probably be Monday before there is any change," said Mr Bartels.

Condolences and tributes

Cyclingnews has now published three pages of tributes from cyclists and supporters from around the world who've been affected by this tragedy. Please see: Amy Gillett: Tributes, Part 1, and More tributes to Amy Gillett, 1976-2005 and Part 3 (posted July 21).

Cycling Australia has also established an email link for people who wish to send condolence messages to the family of Amy Gillett or to pass on their thoughts and wishes to those injured. Go to Cycling Australia's web site and follow the link on the home page.

Related stories:
Amy Gillett dead after crash in Germany
Unprecedented carnage in Germany
AIS women update - condition still critical, but AIS 'optimistic' about recovery

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