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February 16, 2019
Photography by Con Chronis, courtesy of Cycling Australia
After a standout 2018 season where he came close to the overall National Road Series win, all-rounder Nicholas White (Team BridgeLane) claimed victory at the 103rd edition of the Powercor Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic.
Harrison Bailey (GPM-Stulz) was next best in the bunch gallop for the line, with Brendan Johnston (Stitch and Dirt) completing the podium.
The Melbourne to Warrnambool is the longest race in the southern hemisphere and kicks off the 2019 National Road Series. It’s an event riders dream of winning, and for winner Nick White, it was a dream start to his season having recently joined Team BridgeLane.
Starting in Avalon for the first time with a new route and a new timeslot, 144 riders took to the 262.2-kilometre road race that has been won by legends of the sport dating back to the early 20th Century. An animated start saw plenty of attacks off the front, but with a competitive and watchful field, it took some time for anything to stick.
At around the 70-kilometre mark, things started to shake up, with a breakaway group of 13 that ultimately decided the placings of the race. This decisive break included 2018’s National Road Series overall winner and ‘Warnie’ placegetter Raphael Freienstein so the race to the finish line was going to be an interesting one.
Joining White and Freienstein was Harrison Bailey (GPM-Stulz), Brendan Johnston (Stitch and Dirt), William Hodges (Oliver’s Real Food Racing), Samuel Hill (Team Nero Bianchi), Oliver Martin (Drapac Cannondale Holistic Development Team), Rylan Dowdell (Butterfields – Appselec p/b Van D’am Racing), Cyrus Monk, Jake Klajnblat (Subaru – Anchor Point Racing Team), Peter Milostic (Penrith Cycling Club), Nicholas Canterbury (Subaru – Anchor Point Racing Team) and Jack Aitken (Subaru – Anchor Point Racing Team).
With plenty of teams represented in the front bunch, the peloton appeared to be setting a relaxed pace, with time gaps blowing out to 14 minutes at the largest time check. Once the front bunch knew they were a safe distance from the peloton, so it came down to a game of cat and mouse that saw White victorious.
Nicholas White said after his win, “I’m pretty stoked. It was a really hard ride out there and I wasn’t sure I would be able to get it at one point, and everyone in the break was racing really well. That’s the longest I’ve ever stayed in a break, and you could tell everyone wanted to be in it. Deep down I just knew I had to keep it together for a bunch kick and that I would be in with a shot.”