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Elite cyclists in Sydney hit and run -

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Elite cyclists in Sydney hit and run

The World Today - Thursday, 8 May , 2008 12:40:00

Reporter: Karen Barlow

ELEANOR HALL: The father of a professional Australian cyclist can hardly believe it's happened to
his daughter again.

Kate Nichols was injured in a fatal German road racing crash three years ago. Now she's reeling
from a mass hit and run in Sydney this morning.

Ms Nichols and Olympian Ben Kersten were in a pack of about 50 cyclists riding near Sydney Airport,
when an impatient driver turned in front of them and slammed on his brakes.

No one was seriously injured, but most of the cycling pack hit the ground.

As a shaken Kevin Nichols has been telling Karen Barlow.

KEVIN NICHOLS: A car has come past at a high speed ridiculously close to us and cut in in front of
our lead riders. At that stage, I though, oh, what's going on here, of course.

The car then slowed ahead of us, alarm bells started to ring out due to the previous behaviour. At
that stage I wasn't aware that he'd already cut into the field towards the back of the group and
made a nuisance of himself there.

Slowed right down, and at that stage raised alarm bells. I was calling out for people to ease up,
you know, watch out. At the point that we caught up to the back of the car, he then jammed his
breaks on. And of course the riders just rode up into the back of him and crashed and it was like a
domino effect.

KAREN BARLOW: So the driver had deliberately swerved in front of the pack?

KEVIN NICHOLS: He'd already driven I guess within half a metre of the group of riders as he went
past, inside their lane, virtually, or in our lane, on the left hand side. As he passed, swerved in
front of us, slowed down, waited for us to catch up and then hit his breaks.

KAREN BARLOW: What speed were the cyclists going at this stage?

KEVIN NICHOLS: At that point in time, we had a bit of a headwind today, so we were doing, you know,
50 plus. Sometimes we get up to about 60 km/h along that bit.

KAREN BARLOW: And all the cyclists hit the ground?

KEVIN NICHOLS: Very hard to say. The few lucky ones of us up the front who managed to avoid it.
Some were... just because they were trapped inside just had no option and just catapulted in. Some
managed to avoid it. So I'd say at least half the field has gone down, out of the 50 to 60.

KAREN BARLOW: Sounds like mayhem.

KEVIN NICHOLS: It was mayhem. We were very fortunate at the time that there was an off-duty police
officer who was not far behind the group in the following traffic, and he came up and took control
of the scene, blocked the lane with his vehicle and I can only commend the actions of the police
officers.

KAREN BARLOW: This is a hit and run? The driver drove off?

KEVIN NICHOLS: The driver stopped. Obviously he stopped when he caused the accident. He then
started to move forward, I called out for him to pull over and stop, for the obvious reasons,
because the police were going to have to come. He pulled over and stopped, then had second thoughts
and did the bolt.

KAREN BARLOW: All the cyclists there, so many witnesses, you say you got the numberplate?

KEVIN NICHOLS: I had the numberplate before he actually hit the brakes. You could... from behaviour
prior to that action you could see that something was going to happen.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's the father of professional Australian cyclist Kate Nichols, Kevin Nichols,
speaking there to Karen Barlow about that road-rage incident in Sydney this morning.