Logan Griffin has won the 2019 Gentle Annie Bike Ride. Griffin crossed the line solo on Saturday, winning well clear of Luke Mudgway in second and William Green in third. Kirsty McCallum took the win in the women’s race after 2500m of vertical ascent between Taihape and Hastings.
It’s thought that there’s precious little that’s gentle about the Gentle Annie, and when the event takes in 2500m of climbing over 136km, across five climbs it’s not hard to recognise the lack of gentleness! Four of the five climbs average around 3% in gradient, far from steep but making up for that in length. It is the climb up Gentle Annie, the 1.9km and 10.9% average gradient climb that is arguably the nastiest though.
140 riders took on the full race, with the likes of Logan Griffin arriving at Gentle Annie off the back of a strong performance at the Oceania Championships across the ditch. The signs were good for Griffin, who’d battled through a bit of a dissatisfying summer in New Zealand to hit form at the right time.
“I was very happy with Oceania, both for myself and also the riders I took over. Through a lack of form and then a couple crashes I didn’t ride at the level I knew I could through the Nationals-Cycle Classic block but I wrote a good program for myself (and actually followed it for once) and came into Oceana champs in really good shape which has carried over to last weekend,” Griffin told us afterwards.
The first of the day’s climbs up Spooners Hill was 8.1km in length, averaged just under 3% in gradient; and drawing out the creme of the crop as early as the 10km point. Around a dozen riders formed a leading group at the head of the race, and among the leaders were Griffin, Luke Mudgway, William Green, Luke McDermott and Karl Poole.
With the last climb of the day peaking with 46km still to go, any climbers looking for the win would have to attack from a long way off, with the long and gradually downhill dash to the finish. Griffin opted to make his move on the climb up to Ngamatea Station. It proved to be the decisive move of the race, with only Luke Mudgway able to come along with him. Their partnership lasted until 62km to go where Griffin put the hurt on and from there it was a time trial to the finish.
“We rode well together but I knew taking Luke to the line wasn’t going to work out for me and the last real opportunity to get rid of him was up the Gentle Annie climb with 60km to go,” Griffin said. “Over the top of there I had a good 30 seconds and just settled into my own pace from there until the finish. The last 20k’s once the road flattened out felt like they took forever but I got there in the end.”
Griffin crossed the line in 3.50.23 hours, 4.09mins ahead of Luke Mudgway, with William Green third in 6.32mins. Karl Poole took fourth place while Sam Gardner out-sprinted Wouter Peeters for fifth.
The women’s race was dominated by Kirsty McCallum. Coming from fifth place in the Oceania Championships road race, McCallum crossed the line in 4.19.14 hours, with Carol McCallum second and Aileen Campbell third. McCallum’s win doubled up with a new course record, beating the previous benchmark by a staggering 21 minutes.
|77||Rocky De Nys||+1:37:21.56|
|88||Mark Van Panhuys||+1:48:13.21|
|93||Michelle Van Den Broek||+1:58:11.37|
|102||Saskia Van Zijp||+2:11:03.04|