For the past 4 years, local cycling team Hardwood Next Wave has impressed at the Centurion Blue Mountain event held this past weekend in Collingwood. This year was no exception. The team consists of athletes from all age groups, and juniors and seasoned masters athletes once again did extremely well.
Although the Centurion event attracts both racers and riders, the team uses the event to focus on racing. The Centurion cycling weekend this year consisted of two road races held on Saturday – an 80km road race and a 120 km road race; and two events held on Sunday – a 40km road race and the True Grit gravel races. Weather was outstanding both days – calm, warm and dry. Fog cleared just in time each day. The event again drew top talent from across the province and for the junior athletes especially, these races represents an opportunity to test themselves against the very best. All races use the challenging topography of the Niagara Escarpment with lots of hills and descents pushing riders to their limits. The 120km road race went up and down the Escarpment three times.
In the longest race of the weekend, Mathew Leliveld took 42nd place overall. and second in the Men’s 16-19 category. The 80km road race was the largest event with over 400 participants, and competition was tough. Despite that, HNW junior athlete Colton Bartholomew took 13th place overall in a time of 2 hours and 15 minutes winning the Under-13 category. Fellow junior athletes Theron Inglis and Brett Lancaster were close behind in 24th and 25th place overall, taking first and second in the Men’s 14-15 category. Masters athletes Ryan Mitchell and Matt Miller also finished extremely strong in 20th and 27th place overall. Rounding out the top 30 was Nick Sammon who finished 29th, placing second in the Men’s 16-19 category. Hardwood Next Wave’s Katelyn Walcroft would claim third overall in the women’s category finishing 88th overall.
Sunday saw similar conditions as Saturday – unseasonably warm temperatures and no wind. In the 40 km road race the front pack would stay together for a sprint finish. Nick Sammon again finished strong in the mix with 17th overall. However, Sunday would also prove to be a great test for our prospective cyclocross racers this year with the True Grit gravel event taking riders down the gravel back roads of Grey County, straight up and down the escarpment. In this event there were two races – a 40 km race and a 65 km race. Although the field was smaller overall compared to the road races, our younger athletes again impressed. Most notably Colton Bartholomew and Brett Lancaster again taking 4th and 5th overall and Katelyn Walcroft finishing 10th. However it was HNW athlete Robin Horsfield who would go for a head-to-head sprint with local rider Patrick Kings to take second place overall in the 65km True Grit race.
As the athletes say farewell to the summer weather, they also cap off a tremendous season of road racing and mountain bike success. They are now busy preparing for the cyclocross season which will again see some athletes travel to Europe and across North America to represent HNW and Canada.