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County’s favourite cyclist finishes an unlucky 13th at worlds

The County’s favourite senior cyclist took on the world’s best and breezed over the finish line in 13th place at the UCI World Medio Fondo Championship in Perth, Scotland last weekend.

But Rob Legge, of Cressy, says he’s disappointed in his finish in the men’s age 75-79 category, reporting he got off to a bad start and was not able to recover.

He started at least a minute after the 16 others in his category, including Rogert LaBonte, the only other Canadian competitor, who finished 14th.

“The 87-km race was held in ideal conditions – sunny, 18 Celsius and a west-northwest breeze,” reports Legge. But his final time was 2:43:29, finishing 13.45 minutes behind the winner, another 75-year-old, from France.

As it turns out, he was not positioned at the start where he should have been and by the time he realized, the race had begun as he was making his way to his category area.

“I knew then that I was toast. From there, I rode as hard as I could, hoping to catch stragglers along the way,” said Legge. “I was on my own, while the main group of 60-plus riders were in a peloton and would help each other, shield against the wind and travel at great speed. They averaged 34-plus km/h while my average was 32.

Legge at the finish line with Peter Wilson from Australia, behind who tailed him for 50km.

While he rode the entire race independently, he helped pace a few riders in the 80-84 group en route – including the champion.

“During the race, I caught other rides, who drafted me, the rider behind me, Jim McDonald from the United States, won the age 80+ division (time 2:45:27). I was glad to help him. We met at the Cheaha Challenge (qualifying race in Alabama) and I coaxed him to come, since he has Scottish ancestry.

“I was so glad to help him by pulling him along for about 20km. He won the race as the world champion and that gave me great joy.”

Despite his finish, Legge is grateful for the experience at the event, which attracted 1878 riders from 68 countries worldwide in various age groups.

He and his wife Kathy had travelled to Perth in the spring to rent a bike and ride the Medio Fondo course a few times, get familiar with the city and connect with the bike shop where he ships his bike before the race. On their return they also did some sightseeing.

“I did a lot of visualization of the race. I had landmarks along the way and when I passed them, I knew where I was a kept riding on. There was a straight road, for 20km to the finish and I worked as hard as I could to gain ground. I road and gave it everything I had, so that was pleasing.”

Legge, for the third consecutive year, had won the spot to compete in qualifying races. Last year he cycled to 33rd place in the worlds at Italy. In 2021, he did not attend the worlds as it was held during the pandemic.

He has been cycling for more than two decades – including local rides and the annual 300km Ride to Conquer Cancer. This year he and other cyclists with Team Myderwyk raised $97,000 for Princess Margaret Hospital.

And as the summer begins to have streaks of autumn in the air, Legge won’t be taking much time off, he says.

“I will compete in the County Gran Fondo and Hastings Highlands Hilly Hundred in Bancroft in September. Both rides are 100km.”

In the world championships, the Gran Fondo (big ride) is usually 160km for men up to age 59 and women up to age 49, and the Medio Fondo is 100km “for the older folk”.

This year’s bump in the road won’t keep him from yearning for another shot at a worlds title.

“My plan for next year at this point is to go to Amman Jordan in early February, to qualify for next year’s World Championship in Aalborg Denmark the beginning of September. My goal will be to have a podium finish. I like the idea of qualifying early, providing time to plan and travel for Denmark.”

He has met some riders from Denmark and understands their course may be similar, but more challenging than at Perth.

“I have also met riders who know the Jordan course. It will be a big climb, from -400m below sea level, to 800m above. I will rent a bike there and already have rental shops to check out.”

Members of Team Cycling Canada who participated at Perth, pose behind the Black Watch Museum.

Hat trick for County’s Rob Legge competing on world bicycle stage

County cyclists help raise $97,000 at Ride to Conquer Cancer

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  1. SS says:

    Agreed, Cheryl — and I hope folks realise this was the annual UCI championships. The UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) is the world governing body for sports cycling and oversees international competitive cycling events. The UCI is based in Aigle, Switzerland.

    A tiny fraction of all cyclists in the world ever get to qualify for this event — and qualification is mandatory and very tough indeed.

    A wonderful achievement and lots more miles to go yet, even :-).

  2. Cheryl Anderson says:

    I think the title should be “Lucky Thirteen”. Good for Rob being in the top of all the competitors in his age bracket. Congrats for making it to the end and for being the first Canadian to do that.

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