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Tessa Fabry of the High5 Dream Team has won the second running of the 277 kilometre Anchor Point Women’s Melbourne to Warrnambool, in a sprint to the finish against Cairns rider Fiona Yard.
“Winning today feels incredible! It feels incredible just to finish this race, so I’m absolutely stoked to take the win,” said Fabry in a statement. “I was really surprised that I had the legs to sprint at the finish there because for about the last 100k’s of the race I wanted to pull out, but I came good in the last 20k’s and managed to pull it off.”
Jessica Lane of Rush Women’s Team, rounded out the podium, after only taking on the race after she was entered by her brother Patrick Lane, who came fourth in the men’s.
The Melbourne to Warrnambool, often known as the Warrny, goes along the south coast of Victoria and last year’s 100th edition of the Australian race was the very first time there had been a women’s category and a sizeable women’s field. Before that only 13 women had ever earned themselves a spot on the finishers list, including such familiar cycling names as revered British cyclist Beryl Burton and UCI Vice President Tracey Gaudry.
Another 14 female finishers were added when the women’s category was introduced in 2015, but today the wind, mechanicals and crashes led to a high attrition rate in the women’s field. Of the 13 that entered, 12 started and four made it to the end. However the fourth, Carley McKay, was sadly just minutes outside the time cut.
The conditions and mishaps made what was already a big ask, an insurmountable task for many. A substantial portion of the women’s field had limited preparation as they put their hands up to enter with less than two weeks notice after it became clear that without a late influx there may be only a handful of female riders at the start line.
Team strength to solo
Fabry, who was among the late entrants, started out the race with two teammates, Kendelle Hodges and Rebecca Wiasak. However the team, just like the whole category, quickly lost numbers with both Hodges and then Wiasak having to retire with mechanicals in the first half of the race.
It wasn’t long before it was just Fabry and Yard in contention for the win, riding in the same bunch among a field splintered by strong winds. The race has a mass start so the male National Road Series riders, a number of men’s grades and the women’s category are all out on the road together at the same time.
“The wind played a big part today,” said Fabry. “We went up a short climb midway through the race and the pace was on. I was trying to make my way to the front of the bunch as I knew exactly what was about to happen, and then when the bunch split I wasn’t in quite as good of a position as I would have liked. The race blew to pieces which made the rest of the day tough.”
Fabry, also a bike courier, didn’t escape the mechanicals either, having to chase back on a couple of times, but she determinedly battled on through around eight hours of racing, knowing that she was the only one of her team left to deliver a result. And deliver she did.