Penticton racer Drew Mitchell navigates the corner at Haven Hill during the Mitchell, who raced in the 50-59 age category, finished 27th overall and ninth in his category in the Mediofondo (92 km) race. (Brennan Phillips — Western News)

Granfondo cycles through the South Okanagan and towards 10th anniversary

The ninth year of the cycling competition saw 2820 riders tour the South Okanagan

One of the biggest athletic events in Penticton, the Prospera Axel Merckx Granfondo is only getting bigger.

Nine years on, 2,820 athletes came to the beautiful Okanagan to participate in the cycling event — 200 more than last year’s turnout.

“I never thought we would be here nine years ago. We started this event and thought we would give it at try and the response from the volunteers and also the people participating has been so positive that we keep coming back every year. The city is a great support also so that is why we are here,” said Axel Merckx.

Many of those riders have come and run the race multiple years, including this year’s winner of the 160 kilometre Granfondo, Clarke Lind. This was his third year competing, after previously coming in second back in 2017.

Lind finished the race with a time of 04:05:07.0, a hair ahead of second place finisher Ian Garrison, who officially logged the same time. The two lead the pack and were neck and neck for most of the ride.

“I had a really good breakaway companion,” Lind said. “We kinda solo’ed that thing, the two of us, for 140-plus kilometres. He was working hard; I was working hard. I just managed to go over the line a little bit ahead of him. He is the most recently crowned U.S. National Time Trial Champion, so he was an amazing breakaway companion to have, and maybe he let me have it at the end, I don’t know. But I was happy to have it”

Avid cyclist Trevor Linden, former NHL all-star and Vancouver Canucks legend, has participated in the event for several years.

“Axel is a good friend and it is a well run event. To be able to ride our bike in the South Okanagan, such a beautiful place, makes for a great day,” said Linden, who spoke highly of the course. “Once you get south of OK Falls, it is beautiful.”

In the 126 km Velocefondo, Neil Davies took first place with a time of 03:28:51.0. Ben Etkin-Goulet claimed the title for the 92 km Mediofondo with a time of

02:30:25.0 and Kevin Weitzel the 55 km Cortofondo at 01:26:51.0.

The top 10 male finisher’s from Penticton listed on the Granfondo website include Merckx 4:09:08 (men’s 40-49 age category – 32nd overall), Paul Beard 4:16:20 (men’s 40-49 age category – 50th overall), Rhys Spencer 4:20:52 (men’s 40-49 age category – 69th overall), Tim Daeschsel 4:20:52 (men’s 40-49 age category – 155th overall), Gary Denton 4:48:52 (men’s 70-79 age category – 188th overall), Kevin Cutjar 5:02:53 (men’s 50-59 age category – 267th overall), Derek Kontkanen 5:08:06 (men’s 40-49 age category – 299th overall), Chris Turton 5:18:02 (men’s 50-59 age category – 355th overall), Eric Kutschera 5:25:04 (men’s 50-59 age category – 408th overall) and Fabien Carriere 5:30:31 (men’s 30-39 age category – 446th overall).

The top female finisher from Penticton was Gloria Woolner 5:25:08 (women’s 50-59 category – 411th overall), the other two Penticton females did not finish the race). Summerland’s Alix Varchol finished with a time of 5:26:25 (women’s 20 to 29 age category – 429th overall).

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

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