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With the weather smiling on us for the fourth year in a row, the 2014 Amy’s Gran Fondo was a roaring success with 5,000 people taking to the startline in what’s become one of the best events of its kind in Australia, and arguably in the world.
For those unfamiliar with the event, Amy’s Gran Fondo is a 110km mass participation ride that takes cyclists of all abilities from the Victorian seaside town of Lorne, along a fully closed Great Ocean Road — one of the most famous coastal roads in the world — to Skenes Creek. After a 10km climb into the rainforest of the Otway Ranges, the ride heads north east into the hinterland before swinging back towards the coast. The timed ride finishes 10km out of Lorne at Benwerrin, with riders able to enjoy the descent back into Lorne at a leisurely pace.
Many riders might see Amy’s Gran Fondo as a simple event they can attach their own personal goals and achievements to, but there is a purpose to it that’s bigger than us all. The event gives the Amy Gillett Foundation a vehicle to communicate to the top tier of cycling enthusiasts (i.e. you and I) so that their message reaches all of us.
While important, it’s not particularly exciting to talk about safety on the roads and many of us don’t feel like it applies until something goes drastically wrong. However, the extraordinary work that the Amy Gillett Foundation does behind the scenes affects all of us.
If you’ve been riding for long enough you’ll know of at least one person who has been killed on our roads by a car and you’ll understand how important the AGF’s work is. The team works tirelessly building education programs and working towards legislation and attitude change that helps creates an environment so that you and I can come safely home to our families after riding. It’s not a glamorous job and there are no quick wins.
This year’s event alone raised close to $80,000 for the foundation and injected millions of dollars into the Surf Coast and Otway Shire economies.
Here at CyclingTips we were thrilled to be more closely involved with this year’s event by helping to bring the Amy’s Wall hill-climb competition to the Saturday night before the gran fondo. This allowed us to do something to add to the weekend, help raise money (all race entries went to the Amy Gillett Foundation), and give you all a spectacle to enjoy. And what a spectacle it was.
We couldn’t have been happier with the way it went and it simply couldn’t have happened without Subaru’s financial contribution, Europcar’s cash prize donations, Cycling Australia’s operational assistance (in particular, Chris Ball), and of course the support of the Amy Gillett Foundation.
Wiggle Honda’s Peta Mullens took the honours in the women’s event with the VIS’s Chloe McConville in second, and Olympic ski Cross racer Katrya Crema in third.
Taking out the men’s event was the aptly named Liam Hill (Scody Team Down Under) with Kelland O’Brien (O2 Networks) in second, and Lynton Zawadzki taking third (although he had the fastest time of the whole event but was outraced in the finale!).
Amy’s Otway Classic
Amy’s Wall was an exciting warm-up to the main events of the weekend, the Wiggle Amy’s Gran Fondo and the inaugural Amy’s Otway Classic Women’s National Road Series race, which was run on the same course an hour before the gran fondo began.
In that race 19-year-old Queenslander Ellen Skerritt (Holden Women’s Cycling) was crowned as the inaugural winner, after she and teammate Ruth Corset (who leads the NRS overall) formed a two-rider breakaway early in the race and rode to the finish line together hand-in-hand. (Click here for full results).
The main event: Amy’s Gran Fondo
In Amy’s Gran Fondo three-time world champion rower and London Olympian Robyn Selby Smith took out women’s title ahead of last year’s winner Peta Mullens (Wiggle-Honda) and Katherine Woolston. In the men’s event it was Michael Crosbie (African Wildlife Safaris) who won his first 110km Gran Fondo crown ahead of Brendan Canty (who rode as a stagiaire with Drapac at the Tour of Utah) and Todd Buschkuehl.
As for the 99.9% of the rest of us (and aside for the few that had nasty crashes I witnessed – I hope you’re all okay) we’re all winners with an outstanding weekend of cycling now etched in our memories. There are 5,000 stories left on those magnificent roads and I hope every one of those are as good as mine. Well done to all of you.
For now, check out some of Veeral Patel’s photos from the weekend below, and be sure to have a watch of Tom Reynolds’ fantastic video from Amy’s Wall on Saturday night.