18-year-old outclimbs field in Whiteface Uphill race
WILMINGTON — Christopher Welch of Barneveld rode to victory Sunday, topping a field of 267 cyclists who took on the 11-mile climb in the 16th annual Whiteface Uphill Bike Race.
As an 18-year-old, Welch was one of the younger riders in the pack, and he reached the finish line just below the summit of Whiteface in 50 minutes, 25 seconds. Welch placed third overall in the race a year ago.
Jeremy Rae of Ridgeway, who raced in the men’s 20-29 age group, took second overall in 51:47, and veteran David Gazi of Masham, Quebec finished just nine seconds back of Rae in third place.
After winning the grueling 100k Wilmington Whiteface Leadville qualifying race on his mountain bike Saturday, Westport’s Kevin Bouchard-Hall hopped on his road cycle Sunday to place fourth in the uphill, finishing in 52:57. Canada’s Mathieu Belanger-Barrette finished fifth in 53:47.
Twenty racers broke the one-hour mark in their ride to the top.
Veronique Fortin of Gatineau, Quebec, wrapped up her weekend in style and a pair of victories with her ride to the top of Whiteface. On Saturday, Fortin topped the women’s field in the 100k race, and was then the first woman to reach the finish line in the uphill climb, crossing the tape in 56:18, which was also good enough for eighth place overall in the event.
Jodi Wendland of Nepean, Ontario, was the next fastest female, finishing in 1:01:47, which was a 27th-place result overall. Scarsdale’s Cheryl Clark rounded out the women’s top three with a 1:02:08 finish.
Only a handful of area racers competed Sunday, with Robert Duncan Douglas turning in the top time of 1:01:42 for a 26th place finish.
The weekend of racing featured $500 in prize money for the top male and female racers who competed in both the 100k and the uphill climb. Bouchard-Hall won the men’s title with a combined time of 4:57:02, and Fortin took the women’s crown with a 5:34:04 total for both races.