The inaugural Royal Bikes Port Campbell to Warrnambool Handicap was raced in windy and rainy conditions with local Warrnambool rider Des Lane snatching victory from the limit group.
The 65-year-old took the win in a six-up sprint to the line over Camperdown’s John Pearson and Bryce Morden in a time of 1h58:43.
In trying conditions, 96 riders set off from Port Campbell in the Corangamite Shire towards Raglan Parade in Warrnambool via the Great Ocean Road.
The wind and rain played into the limit group’s favour, with no other groups managing to catch them over the 76 kilometre course.
“I was pretty elated,” said Des at the finish.
“It was actually a pretty tough race, the winds play a bit of havoc to all of the bunches. We had a bunch that worked fairly well, we got through it unscathed and it was really good.
“In some parts we had a solid tail wind behind us and we picked up the speed pretty quick. We’re not quite as quick as the back bunches but the front bunches sort of held off everybody. Which was pretty good.
“It’s not often you get the wind behind you so it was pretty good for the out markers,” Lane – who has raced seven Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classics explained.
“We didn’t know how far the bunches were behind, I kept on looking behind on all the big turns to see if there were bunches coming but I couldn’t see any.
“I said ‘well this is it boys we’ve got to keep going’. The whole bunch sort of dug in kept going.”
Lane was lucky to enter the race, after the rider he was supposed to feed in the day’s Powercor Melbourne to Warrnambool no longer needed him. That left the local legend free to race on one of his favourite days of the year.
The Fastest Time went to Port Fairy’s John Watkinson who completed the course in a very fast 1h39:01.
Watkinson finished in 61st position, +13mins18sec down on race winner Lane.