Buddhika Warnakulasuriya of the Air Force Elite Riders’ crew emerged the champion at the Three Peaks Challenge cycling championship in a record time of 2hrs. and 39 minutes.
Though the climb was herculean, he clocked an average of 26kmph! Subsequently, the first ten riders completed the Challenge within a minute since the Champion’s arrival at the checkered flag. Yasas Hewage clocked competitive 3hrs and 40 minutes behind the elite riders underlining the potential of amateur athletes.
Three Peaks Challenge is a thrilling climb over three scenic mountains – Ginigathena, Hatton and Radella which was officially scheduled to start from Kitulgala on July 31 at 4 a.m. But the WrooM riders had decided to push the game a notch higher by starting their ride from Madiwela to add an extra 80 km as a warm up, before the gruelling climb began.
Officially, the challenge commenced from Kitulgala at 8.30 a.m.; 30 riders, 35 support crew members as back up, and three peaks to ascend! From the starting point, Ginigathena, Hatton and Radella are respectively 15Kms, 40Kms, and 55Kms away. It is definitely noteworthy, that the 3063m climb up to Radella falls into HC (Hors catégorie) climb in the Tour de France ranking.
The riders had the option of either completing the challenge at their own pace, or competing for a podium position. Veteran participants were Lesley Rupasinghe, J.L Dullawa, S.M.D Chithrasena, A.F Jayalath and Pradeep Chandana Silva.
Elite Riders from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, and Ports Authority included Gihan Pushpakumara, Thushan Rajapakshe, Janaka Hematha Kumara, Nihal Silva, Suranga Ranaweera, Buddhika Warnakulasuriya, Nidush Nirantha, Sudeera Nilanga, Upul Lokuge and Wiran Ramesh. Yasas Hewage, Ajith Fernando, Jehan Bastians, Lilantha Wijayapala, Suren Abeysuriya, Milanka Induruwage, Dushmantha Jayasinghe, Shehan C, Gihan Hemachandra, Aneesha Iddawala, Shehan were the WrooM cyclists who participated.
The Three Peak Challenge was sponsored by Land Rover, Dell and Spinner, and was partnered by Hemas Hospital. While sponsors bore the cost of the National riders, the proceeds were contributed towards the support of ‘Blinking Bikes’ Road Safety Programme for school children in the Central province.