Saturday saw the club run a hill climb championship from Leongatha to Mt Eccles. The race was open to other Gippsland riders however, the rainy and windy start to the day deterred some riders. Racing started as 10.00am with temperatures around 12C and a north westerly wind buffeting the riders. Some of the ramps on the climb copped a fair wind blast. The race was only over a distance of 15.9km and included the climb up to Hannams bush before the 5km run up Mt Eccles.
The actual climb has two climbs separated by a short down- hill section before the last ramp up to the hall road. The result is that the riders actually climb over 290m elevation when the actual elevation difference between top and bottom is only around 230m. Some of the ramps are around 12% grade so the climb is just as steep as the climbs that may be seen in the likes of the Tour de France. With a climb like this basically on the doorstep of Leongatha the riders can certainly get good training for mountain climbs.
The A grade field were the first to depart and the group stayed together until the climb. First over the line was Oliver McLean in 31.44min just ahead of brother Harrison in 31.53min. Close behind him was Daniel Furmston in 32.32min whilst Chris Joustra was 4th at 32.46, Paul Collins 5th at 33.01, Leigh Stott 6th, 35.01min and Brett Franklin a fantastic time of 36.35 which included a stop for a puncture repair at the turn-off from Wild Dog Valley.
The B grade field started a minute behind and this group also rode as a bunch to the base of the main climb. Thomas Fitzgerald was able to chase Brett Franklin up the hill and posted a time of 36.13min which was a great effort. Next in was Chris Rowe in 38.30 just ahead of Mark Bensley 38.55min. Kerry Pritchard put in a great effort to clock 40.56min.
In the Women’s race Bernadette Fitzgerald finished in 41.22min, with Felicity Waddell in 53.11 just ahead of Kerry Fitzgerald in 53.12min. In the C grade race Kaleb Jans finished in 47.57min and Greg Bradshaw was at 52.36min. Both Kerry Pritchard and Greg Bradshaw showed that age is no barrier for riding up the big climbs.
Next week the riders tackle a new course with riders starting at Kongwak and racing toward Bena before crossing across the ridge at Jeetho to the Loch-Wonthaggi Rd and return. This should make a race of around 42km and include 2 climbs.
Congratulations to Ollie McLean, winner of the Gippsland Hill Climb Championships. On A cool and blustery morning a field of 7 challenged for the title, 4 Leongatha riders and 3 from Latrobe City with no-one from Warragul up for the challenge. Going up Mt Eccles Ollie and his brother Harry stretched the field out with Ollie finishing the better to take the Win. Daniel Furmston had the better of Chris Joustra to take 3rd.
In the Womens race Bernadette Fitzgerald was a clear winner from Felicity Waddell and Kerry Fitzgerald. The Junior title was taken by Ollie with Tom Fitzgerald second and Kaleb Jans third.
1st – Ollie McLean (31.44)
2nd – Harry McLean (31.53)
3rd – Daniel Furmston (32.32)
4th – Chris Joustra (32.40)
5th – Paul Collins (33.01)
6th – Leigh Stott (35.04)
7th – Brett Franklin (36.35) Punctured
1st – Bernadette Fitzgerald (41.22)
2nd – Felicity Waddell (53.11)
3rd – Kerry Fitzgerald (53.12)
1st – Ollie McLean (31.44)
2nd – Tom Fitzgerald (36.13)
3rd – Kaleb Jans (47.57)