Winning the Powercor Melbourne to Warrnambool may just be as much a state of mind as being first across the line in a division, a feeling of achievement and completeness that comes after weathering the mighty challenge of the 267-kilometre course from Avalon Airport to Raglan Parade.
Emblematic of this notion was Peter Greig of Port Fairy Cycling Club who signed off from his Warrnambool career atop the podium.
“It was my fifth Warrny, my last and it was good to go out as the first Warrnambool rider home, it means a lot,” said Greig after the race. “It was a good race, it was really nice conditions out there. I was in a strong bunch, I got dropped from the big boys in the main peloton of course.
“The boys were working really hard and we averaged 40 km/hr the whole way, solid ride. I had four of my own teammates around, even to the line I had two teammates there encouraging me all the way.”
Finishing just shy of 38 minutes down of the winner, Jensen Plowright of Team Bridgelane, in a fast-run edition of the legendary race, the C-Grade rider credited his fellow local riders with giving him the encouragement to finish, then let him take the spot as first Warrnambool rider to finish, allowing him to stand atop the podium in front of friends and family, receiving one of the biggest roars of the presentation.
“A lot of my friends support me and my family support me and it drives you home, just knowing they’ll be waiting there at the finish line,” said Greig. “I normally don’t cramp but today I was cramping 80 kilometres from home but I knew I couldn’t get off the bike, I had to be there for my family and friends waiting for me.
“Tim Reddick and Sean Taylor rode with me all the way to the line and helped me be the first Warrnambool rider home today. That was good of them to do that for me.
“The two boys around me to the line, they’re pretty powerful boys and they sprint a lot harder than me, but it was a great gesture from then to let me have it today.”
With such a sterling performance, you might think that it would prove impossible to resist the call to come back again next year, but Greig’s happy to go out on top.
“I’m 57 this year, I’ll support it, I love the race,” said Greig, “but I’ll watch the young boys do it, it’s a young man’s race.”
Greig talked about why the race was so special for a local rider, participating in the prestigious event that brings the best cyclists in Australia to the area in a continuation of the oldest and longest road cycling event in the country.
“At the end of the day you get on your bike at Avalon and for a Warrnambool person there’s only one way home,” joked Greig. “When you come over the hills and hit Port Campbell, we start to get in our training zones then and it just makes it easier that last 80 kilometres when it’s in your home town.
“The officials and the Warrnambool locals do a wonderful job and hopefully we can keep this race going for a long, long time.”