Joel Pearson took an emotional victory in the 114th edition of the Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic on Saturday. The 25-year-old Savings & Loans rider claimed his victory after he spent almost 250 of the race's 261 kilometre course in a breakaway group. He was able to hold off fellow escapees Daniel Furmston (Praties) and 2007 Champion Tim Decker (Titans Race 2) in the final sprint for the line.
For Pearson, the victory was affirmation of his recovery from a serious car accident in France last year, which had left in a coma for several weeks. Although he still suffers from the effects of the accident, any indication of those handicaps were well hidden today as he took an emphatic win in the worlds second oldest cycling race.
An early escape
While race organisers had reduced the length of this year's race by approximately 40 kilometres citing rider safety, there remained an imposing 261 kilometre course for the field.
Despite the almost six and a half hour journey ahead of them, it took just 10 kilometres for the race winning break to emerge from the main group. An escape of 22 riders, including Pearson, snuck away from the peloton and wouldn't be seen again until the finish in Warrnambool.
The escape group coordinated to ensure their success, but as the finale approached, it was Pearson who found himself in the box seat. His teammates worked to ensure he would be well placed for the final sprint.
With 250 kilometres beneath their wheels, Pearson's Savings & Loans teammate Will Dickeson came to the front of the group to temper the enthusiasm of any potential late-race attacks. A little over ten kilometres later, Dickeson was on hand to watch Pearson throw an emotional punch into the air as he sprinted to victory ahead of Furmston and Decker.
Queenslander Kirsty Broun was the first woman home, completing the course in 6:55:25.
|1||Joel Pearson (Aus) Savings & Loans||6:28:25|
|2||Daniel Furmston (Aus) Praties|
|3||Tim Decker (Aus)Titans Race 2|
|1||Kirsty Broun (Aus)||6:55:25|