Local Leagas snares crown in front of bumper crowd

Headshot of Cameron Newbold
Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
Under-18 rider Riley Wakeling takes a jump.
Camera IconUnder-18 rider Riley Wakeling takes a jump. Credit: Laurie Benson

Albany rider Aaron Leagas produced a slick race run to claim the 2018 Urban Downhill crown, bettering his sixth-place finish last season in the well-supported event held in perfect conditions on Sunday afternoon.

A huge crowd was on hand to see more than 60 riders tackle the challenging downhill course as part of the Southern MTB held in the Albany across the weekend featuring four different events.

Leagas finished sixth in last year’s Urban Downhill but blitzed his way through the course on Sunday to stop the clock in 1min. 38.45sec. and win the open division.

Under-18 rider Seth O'Connell.
Camera IconUnder-18 rider Seth O'Connell. Credit: Albany Advertiser

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The final standings were extremely tight with Dave Berry a close second in 1:38.53, while Bill Carruthers (1:39.46) filled third place.

After moving to Albany last year, Leagas said he was thrilled to win the major downhill race.

“I was over the moon to take the win,” the 19-year-old said.

“I didn’t come into the event thinking I was going to take it out as I haven’t rode a downhill bike in about a year.

“My run went rather well — couple of mistakes coming to a complete stop and blowing my foot off in the log section which got a bit wild, and with times being so tight I thought I blew it.”

2018 Urban Downhill open winner Aaron Leagas.
Camera Icon2018 Urban Downhill open winner Aaron Leagas. Credit: Albany Advertiser

The course began at the Desert Mounted Corps Memorial and twisted its way down Mt Clarence before finishing with a tough jumps section on Brunswick Road.

Luke Ball (1:40.09) and Brett Pengelley (1:41.11) rounded out the top five, while locals Zak Wilsher (1:41.23) and Ben Halsall (1:43.28) were in sixth and seventh overall respectively.

In the under-18 category, Hayden Kinnear took out the win with an impressive time of 1:43.85, which also placed him ninth overall, while Hamish Wilkes won the under-14 class in a time of 1:48.31 and in the women’s division, Tanya Bailey was first in 1:58.91.

Albany’s Ben Halsall.
Camera IconAlbany’s Ben Halsall. Credit: Albany Advertiser

On Saturday there were huge numbers for the Southern Peaks event, a gruelling mountain bike trail ride that began at Maitraya.

In the 50km race, masters men’s competitor Joh Gregg was the first to cross the line winning both his division and the overall standings in 2hr.8min.24.5sec.

Chris Fisher was second to finish overall, followed by open men’s duo Rowan Brown and Craig Wiggins.

Youngest rider in the Urban Downhill, Declan Poett.
Camera IconYoungest rider in the Urban Downhill, Declan Poett. Credit: Albany Advertiser

Albany youngster Lachlan Waldron won overall race honours in the 37km race, finishing in 1:48.26.9 to edge out veteran men’s competitor Brett Dal Pozzo (1:48.40.9).

The 17km race was won by Jason Bell (1:00.59.8) from Ande Powys (1:03.21.7). A big crowd was on hand to watch Saturday night’s jumps comp in the town square and there were strong numbers in Sunday’s Kids’ Urban.

Albany Mountain Bike Club president Nick Walls was extremely pleased with the weekend’s mountain bike festival.

Under-14 rider Jackson Poett.
Camera IconUnder-14 rider Jackson Poett. Credit: Albany Advertiser

“Sunday was awesome — the numbers were pretty close to what we had in the first year,” he said.

“They were going so quick. I was a bit surprised how quick they got down but we (had) great feedback and it’s really a pure gravity course. Saturday was epic, the Southern Peaks, everyone enjoyed the trail and the jumps comp — they put on a show.

“People are looking forward to the event now and as a club it helps bring people to Albany, which pushes our case to get more trails.”

Zak Wilsher gathers speed on his way to a jump.
Camera IconZak Wilsher gathers speed on his way to a jump. Credit: Albany Advertiser

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