Belli biker bolts in
Imagine turning up at your first serious road cycle event and leaving the likes of Olympic gold medallist Kathy Watt in your wake and pushing Australian female road cyclist of the year Vicki Whitelaw right to the wire.
Belli bolt from the blue, Shara Gillow, of the Sunshine Coast Cycling Club, did that recently in the Tour of Bright, ridden through Victoria’s Mount Hotham region.
Gillow stunned even herself by coming in second, sixth and second in the stages for the overall runners-up position, but it was on the hill climb that she made jaws drop.
She initially claimed equal first place after the steep climbs, but was placed second after a countback.
The 20-year-old had only had limited experience, including the local Coast tour event, before taking on the big guns in three stages in two days.
Gillow shaded Watt, who had to settle for 10th overall, but was beaten by just more than a minute in the time trial section, where she is determined to make up plenty of ground in the races ahead.
Watt has been a dominant force in racing since winning the 1992 Barcelona Olympic road race.
“I wasn’t able to take my trials bike down there because there was no room.”
Her form surge over two days was a tour revelation.
“On the climbs Vicki and I broke away from the rest by about two minutes,” Gillow said.
“They had no idea who I was, but I heard her tell some of the other riders (after competing against her) that I was a really strong climber.
“It’s something you either have or you haven’t and I love the climbs.
“I was a bit shocked myself because I’ve never raced at this level, but it has given a great deal of confidence.”
Whitelaw has competed with the best in the world and won a stage this year in the Giro D’Italia.
Perhaps the most astonishing aspect of Gillow’s emergence was that her father David was not in favour of her competing.
He was an elite competitor at the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games in cycling.
“I did my best not to encourage because I knew how hard this can be, but she eventually wore me down,” he said.
Even so, Gillow only started cycling three years ago.
She claims her dad has been an inspiration.