Wed, Jul 20, 2005 - Page 20 News List

Cyclist killed, five injured on training ride

AP , GERA, GERMANY

This file photograph shows Australian cyclist Amy Gillett after winning the Tour of Bright in Victoria last December. Gillett was killed in a road accident in Germany on Monday.

PHOTO: EPA

Organizers canceled the first stage of a women's cycling race yesterday after Australian rider Amy Gillett was killed and five teammates injured when a car crashed into the group during a training ride a day earlier.

The 18-year-old driver of the car was also seriously injured and police have not been able to question her. Police said she lost control of the car and swerved onto the oncoming lane. Authorities are investigating whether to press manslaughter charges caused by negligent driving, prosecutor Ralf Mohrmann said.

The Australian team had a safety car behind the group, as is customary, but not in the front, organizers said.

Cycling Australia chief executive Graham Fredericks said two of the other riders, Louise Yaxley and Alexis Rhodes, were in a serious condition in intensive care at a local hospital.

Fredericks said the three other injured cyclists were in a stable condition.

Tour of Thuringia organizers canceled yesterday's opening time trial and instead planned a memorial service to be attended by all riders. The race will start today, with what would have been stage two, and run through the east German state of Thurngia before finishing on Sunday.

The accident happened Monday afternoon near Zeulenroda, south of Leipzig, where the six-member Australian Institute of Sports (AIS) women's road cycling squad was training for the Tour.

"The team was having a [ride] around the course ... a driver lost control of a car and careened into them," Cycling Australia spokeswoman Gennie Sheer said.

Gillett, 29, was a member of Ballarat Cycling Club in Australia's Victoria state, but had been based with the AIS women's squad in Italy for the European season.

Competing under her maiden name, Amy Safe, she was a member of the Australian women's eight rowing team that placed fifth at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. She later married former world champion rower Simon Gillett, before switching sports to cycling in 2000.

She was a member of the Australian World Cup cycling teams in 2002 and 2003 and was a candidate for Australia's Commonwealth Games squad next March.

"Amy was a unique athlete who represented at the elite level in two sports," Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates said.

"She was an outstanding rower and then she showed her immense talent making the transition to competitive cycling in such a short time. Our deepest sympathy goes to Simon and Amy's family and friends. Our thoughts are also with the girls who were injured," Coates said.

The families of at least three of the injured cyclists, plus a doctor and psychologist from the AIS -- Australia's peak sports institute -- were traveling to Germany.

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