GrapeRiders relish their day in the sun

Canterbury rider Bailey O'Donnell crosses the finish line to claim the men's Speed Bunnies title. Photo Peter Jones

The Whitehaven GrapeRide returned to Marlborough’s roads today, with over 1000 cyclists taking advantage of perfect autumnal conditions to stretch their legs and get their competitive juices flowing again.

Riders on road bikes, mountain bikes, e-bikes and tandems tackled a variety of courses and distances, all starting and finishing at Vines Village in Rapaura Rd.

The Speed Bunnies title, raced over the traditional 101km course, is always hotly-contested and this year was no exception.

Prebbleton rider Bailey O’Donnell was first across the new finish line in Jefferies Rd. The Oxford Edge team member burst clear of the pack as they rounded the final corner and finished a bike length clear of second-placed Liam Morrison, from Christchurch, with fellow Cantabrian Ollie Jones third. Bailey finished in a time of two hours 23 minutes 40.40 seconds, 0.36 of a second ahead of Liam.

Charlotte Lucas took out the women's 101km title. Photo Peter Jones
Charlotte Lucas took out the women's 101km title. Photo Peter Jones

The women’s title was claimed, for the second time, by Hokitika rider Sharlotte Lucas. The 2016 winner held a clear advantage at the line from Lincoln rider Henrietta Christie, with former Olympian Kate McIlroy third. Sharlotte’s time was 2.43.15.57.

The two-lap Magnum title went to Paul Odlin in a time of 5.11. Behind him were Wellington’s Reon Nolan and Aucklander Chris Dufton who crossed the line together in five hours, 21 minutes, 22.60 seconds. Blenheim’s Craig Harper was fourth in 5.29.07.82.

The 42km Taster was won by Christchurch rider Craig Thurlow in 35.26.44 while Blenheim’s Erin Green, also an accomplished speed skater, claimed the women’s title in 1.19.22.

The 40km mountain bike race was won by Myles Yarrell of Christchurch in 52.14.60 while Marlborough youngster Neve McKenzie took the women’s title title in 59.56.86.

The 21km mountain bike event was won by Ben Wilkes of Rapaura in 55.29.74 while Renwick rider Diana Orchard took out the women’s crown in 1.10.41.03.