Shara Gillow
Shara Gillow AAP / Joe Castro

Cyclist rates among best

BELLI Park product Shara Gillow carved out her best result in a road race and provided Olympic selectors with food for thought by finishing in the top 10 at the Tour of Italy yesterday.

Gillow captured the attention of the sport’s pundits last year when she claimed eighth place at the world time trial championships.

But it was her efforts in the mountains of Italy during the last two weeks which confirmed the 23-year-old is a star of the future.

The Bizkaia Durango team member shocked onlookers with her effort during stage two of the Giro Donne on July 2, climbing into the esteemed pink jersey with a stage-winning performance.

She was involved in a 14-woman breakaway that day, but the group splintered on the testing Madonna Regina climb.

Gillow, Briton Sharon Laws and Poland’s Sylwia Kapusta forged to the front and extended their lead during the last 50km of the 91km race to Pescocostanzo.

But the Australian attacked on the last climb to seal a rare

Australian stage victory and a four-second overall lead.

“I think there’s only been a handful of non-Europeans to have ever worn the pink jersey,” proud father David said yesterday.

“She held it for a day but she didn’t really have any help from her teammates the following day and she’d used a fair bit of energy up.”

The 23-year-old is enjoying a breakthrough year, having won the time trial title in January at the Australian championships.

Nambour-born Gillow also won the Oceania road race and time trial championships.

The Italy result is bound to put her right in the mix for selection in Australia’s cycling contingent for London.

“It is pretty phenomenal. She’s had the Olympic coach phone her up and (she) is just doing somersaults,” David said.

“She’s heading in the right direction, that’s for sure.”

Ominously for her rivals, Gillow went into the Tour of Italy somewhat under-prepared for the steep climbs.

“This Giro has been a really hard one and Shara hasn’t done any mountain preparation at all because they’ve been gearing her for the world time trial championships (at Denmark) basically,” David said.

It was Gillow’s third attempt at the race.

She received an invitation to ride it as a guest of the AIS and finished 24th.

She then turned professional and competed with Jayco last year, finishing 16th.

The 11-day Tour featured three big climbing days.

Gillow eventually finished ninth among more than 120 riders, while fellow Australian Ruth Corset finished sixth.

German Ina Teutenberg won the 10th and final stage, a 22km time trial, as Dutch star Marianne Vos sealed the overall win.

Time trial specialist Vicki Whitelaw was the best-placed Australian in the final stage at 12th.

Overall, Corset finished 12 minutes and 58 seconds behind Vos and Gillow took ninth at 15:48.

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