Thüringen-Rundfahrt under way with neutral stage

After the tragic accident before the Thüringen-Rundfahrt in Germany that killed Australian cyclist Amy Gillett and injured five of her teammates, the organisers of the race held a memorial service in place of the first stage on Tuesday and neutralised what was to be the second stage on Wednesday.

The memorial service was held at Zeulenroda's Market Place. The service was attended by local government and German Cycling Federation representatives, representatives of the International Cycling Union and all the riders and team staff of the Tour. Australia's Ambassador to Germany, Pamela Fayle, read a tribute to Amy on behalf of Cycling Australia's board, staff and members, and several Australian cyclists including Olympic gold medallist, Sara Carrigan, world ranked number one, Oenone Wood, and Amy's close friend Natalie Bates paid tribute to their friend and teammate. Australians Rochelle Gilmore, Emma Rickards, Olivia Gollan and Kate Bates also attended. At the conclusion of the service the cyclists on their bicycles followed by a convoy of mourners travelled to where the accident happened and amidst prayers and tears, floral tributes were laid at the site next to a simple wooden cross bearing Amy's name.

On Wednesday, it was decided that stage 2 between Zeulenroda and Greiz would be ridden under neutral conditions by the field, with the seven remaining Australian riders in the race crossing the line first, a little way ahead of the peloton. It was a symbolic gesture that was also performed by the Motorola team in the Tour de France 10 years ago, after Fabio Casartelli died on a descent during Stage 15 on July 18, 1995. The next day, the stage between Tarbes and Pau was neutralised and the six remaining members of the Motorola squad led the pack into the finish.

The first racing stage of this year's Thüringen-Rundfahrt will be on Thursday, between Greiz and Gera.

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