Thousands complete Otways bike ride

 About 5000 cyclists took part in Otway cycling event Amy’s Gran Fondo yesterday.  PICTURE: Con Chronis

About 5000 cyclists took part in Otway cycling event Amy’s Gran Fondo yesterday. PICTURE: Con Chronis

CLEAR, blue skies greeted 5000 cyclists for an Otways cycling event yesterday.

Simon Gillett, patron of the Amy Gillett Foundation and an organiser of Amy’s Gran Fondo, said Australia’s top women’s cycling teams and amateur riders alike lined up with Hollywood actor Anthony LaPaglia and TV’s The Bold and the Beautiful star Katherine Kelly Lang for the event’s fourth annual outing.

Amy’s Gran Fondo included riders on roads between Lorne, Apollo Bay, Forrest and Deans Marsh.

“It was an absolutely spectacular sight in the main street of Lorne,” Mr Gillett said.

“We are happy you’ve turned this great weather on for us,” he said.

Mr Gillett said the inaugural Amy’s Otway Classic, a 110-kilometre women’s bike ride as part of Cycling Australia’s National Road Series, was an exciting addition to this year’s event and attracted 65 cyclists.

He said Brisbane cyclist Ellen Skerritt and her team “crossed the line five minutes ahead of the field”.

“There were two-and-a-half-thousand riders behind them in the Gran Fondo, and 420 in the 40-kilometre Medio Fondo and 250 in the Piccolo Fondo,” he said.

“It was great to see 250 mums and dads, and kids on balance bikes, it was good to see them on their training wheels.”

Mr Gillett said the bike ride, which included a section of the Great Ocean Road between Lorne and Apollo Bay, had been “really successful”.

“It’s designed as a weekend event, for people to de-stress and enjoy themselves,” Mr Gillett said.

“The event will put somewhere between seven and nine million dollars into the local community,” he said.

“We have a fundraising component as well, riders have raised close to $80,000 in addition to their entry fees, which helps the foundation continue their work.”

Mr Gillett was married to Amy Gillett, an Australian track cyclist who died on a training ride in Germany in 2005 when a driver crashed into her.

He helped establish the Amy Gillett Foundation to provide financial support to young riders and promote projects aimed at improving cyclist safety.

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