29 May 2021
From the huge icons like the Col de Tourmalet to the vicious bergs of Belgium, climbing mountains has always had a fascination for cyclists. Mount Clarence/Corndarup while not having the elevation or grandeur of a big European ‘col’, nor lined with snowbanks as we see in the Giro, is still a formidable climb at full gas and has been the site of Albany Cycle Club’s annual Ralph Flowers Hill Climb Championship for a number of years. The course winds its way up Marine Parade from Middleton Beach to the top of Apex Drive, covering 3.7 kilometres and reaching inclines as steep as 13%.
The hill climb event has a long history at Albany Cycling Club, at one time climbing three separate hills in a day, before settling to the current course. It has been won multiple times by club legends such as Brad Jones and Vic Gladish; in more recent times, Nav Coole and Craig Wiggins have both hoisted the trophy on two or more occasions.
On Saturday, despite dire predictions, the thirteen riders who took on the challenge of getting to the top of Corndarup as quickly as possible, raced in near perfect conditions. Setting off at one minute intervals, riders looked to maximise their effort and speed without blowing up.
There were a range of impressive performances with great rides on the day by the ‘supervets’ Jeff Barnes and Shirley Thurston. Barnes was one of eight riders who went under ten minutes. In the women, Liz Cooper was fastest at 11.31 followed by Thurston and Jill Bascombe.
Normally hill climbs are the domain of the lightweights of the sport and gravity gets to sit back and have a giggle at those who get their money’s worth out of a set of scales, not, however, in this case. In a fantastic ride, Brett Dal Pozzo, proved wrong the adage that big boys can’t climb. One of two riders who finished in under eight minutes, Dal Pozzo in his hill climb debut ripped up the hill in 7.53. A mere five-seconds behind him was young gun Riley Heslop in 7.58. Brent Schoof rounded out the podium in the cracking time of 8.45.
Thanks again to the volunteers who marshalled and timed on the day, and Six Degrees for sponsoring the post-race festivities. The next race is the Keyser Cup Handicap on Saturday June 12th.