Coastal Classic to Toomey

Matthew Cowles (17) competes in the 15km MTB Experience race at the Coastal Classic at Taieri...
Matthew Cowles (17) competes in the 15km MTB Experience race at the Coastal Classic at Taieri Mouth yesterday. PHOTO: WAYNE PARSONS
The warmer weather did not deter 250 seasoned and hardy souls in the annual Coastal Classic at Taieri Mouth yesterday.

In the premier mountain bike event, the 45km Skyline Challenge, Dunedin rider Andy Toomey opened up a sizeable lead from the start and held it through to the finish.

The 27-year-old builder with Naylor Love clocked a smart 1hr 40min 43sec on the demanding course.

He last had success on the course four years ago, when he won the equivalent event, then a 52km course.

"It was pretty brutal out there," he said of yesterday's race.

"I hydrated pretty well beforehand and had two water bottles on board that carried me through."

Toomey moved from a mountain bike to a cyclocross bike, which proved a wise move considering the course was mostly firm and showed little signs of recent heavy rain.

"I knew it wasn't overly technical, so I thought I'd just thrash it out. I just sat myself in the pain cave for and hour and a-half or so and held on."

Toomey is the current Mountain Bike Otago rider of the year, and finished fifth in the cyclocross New Zealand championships. His next major challenge will be the six-day Pioneer stage race in Queenstown at the beginning of next month.

The first woman home in the 45km Skyline Challenge was Shelley Hersey in 2hr 18min 6sec.

The 43-year-old Dunedin-based educator is a first-year rider and took as much satisfaction out of winning the women's title as she did beating her husband Paul across the line.

Logan Park High School pupils Liam Black, Matthew Cowles and Bill Campbell, in finishing first, second and third respectively, made a clean sweep of honours in the 15km MTB Experience race. It was all one-way traffic in the 30km MTB Classic race, as junior rider James Gardner (Dunedin) clocked an impressive time of 1hr 13min 54sec. Gardner finished a massive 12min 30sec clear of second placed Todd Gordon (Dunedin) who clocked 1hr 26min 24sec, and Ray Dunstan (Mosgiel), who finished third in 1hr 26min 48sec.

Alex Gorrie made a triumphant return to the local running circuit when he won the associated 21km run, clocking 1hr 33min 33sec, with a long way back to second placed Simon Leaning in 1hr 41min 16sec, who pipped defending champion Jonah Smith on the line, relegating Smith to third in 1hr 41min 17sec.

Mel Aitken made use of a visit back to Dunedin to take the opportunity of competing in one of her favourite events.

Aitken won the women's title in 1hr 46min 24sec, from Kristy Eyles, second in 1hr 56min 1sec, and Aly Craigie, third in 1hr 57min 25sec.

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