The inaugural race of the NRS 2020 Series and The 104th edition of the Powercor Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic was won today by Brendan Johnson (Team CCS Canberra) after 6h16m in the saddle.
He won a four-rider sprint to the line, beating Michael Freiberg (ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) and Mark O’Brien (Inform TM Insight MAKE) with Israel Start-Up Nation Benjamin Perry rolling in just behind in fourth.
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The peloton rolled out destined for Warrnambool 262km away. The course took the the riders through some of South Western Victoria’s greatest landmarks and towns including the Great Ocean Road and Port Campbell.
It took nearly 140 kilometres for a break to be established, eventually, three groups attacked and got away before merging to form a leading group of 37 riders.
As the race reached the latter stages of the race, a breakaway of five riders formed as the leading group rolled through Timboon near Port Campbell along the iconic Great Ocean.
The five rider break included Perry, O’Brien, Johnson, Jenner and Freiberg.
At the 200km mark, Johnston showed his strength and form, winning the final intermediate sprint of the day known as the ‘Victorian 200km Championship’.
With 62km to go, the gravel sector, wind, and huge distances took the chasing group, with the time gap blowing out and an optimistic chase group of three failing to bridge the gap.
Into the closing kilometres, the attacks and pace proved too much for Jenner who dropped off with 8kms to go, leaving the four riders to battle it out for the eventual sprint finish. The peloton finished +7mins 11secs behind the winner.
Following his triumph, Brendan Johnson who is best known for his mountain bike palmares said,
“I can’t believe it, even for myself to get into that move out of the mess at the start. It’s a full lottery. We got a big group away, then it came back and on one of the climbs about five of us went and I was pretty happy with that move. Just to get into that move was half the battle for me,” said Johnston who finished third in 2019.
“I’ve loved this race since the first time I did it, it’s just incredible, I can’t believe I won the sprint!
“To get the win, I’m just ecstatic.
“After a long race I can kind of hold my own okay, I went pretty early, like really early, with 100metres to go my legs literally stopped rotating pretty much. I can’t believe it.
“I’ve done this race many times, when I was really young, I had a good ride and made it to the front group. Since then I’ve had it stuck with my that I wanted to win that race.”
Brendan JOHNSTON (Team CCS Canberra Men’s) 6h16:03
Michael FREIBERG (ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) +0
Mark O’BRIEN (Inform TM Insight MAKE) +0
TEAM CLASSIFICATION RESULTS:
Team BridgeLane 18h49m52s
InForm TM Insight MAKE +12:39
Avalon Airport +12:39
DEAKIN SPRINT CLASSIFICATION RESULTS:
Aidan BUTTIGIEG (CHR)
Michael FREIBERG (ACA)
SOUTHWEST TAFE KOM RESULTS:
Mark O’BRIEN (INF)
Mathew ROSS (CHR)
Brendan JOHNSTON (CCS)
2020 Melbourne to Warrnambool race highlights (no commentary – courtesy of Cycling Victoria)