MORTLAKE export Darcy Woolley started his Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic debut with a punctured tyre and finished with a top-20 result.
Woolley, 20, a member of the African Wildlife Safari team, finished a respectable 17th, two minutes and 11 seconds behind winner Sam Horgan.
“I was happy to finish with the main bunch. It split up at the end and it turned into survival more than anything,” he said.
The endurance specialist was spurred on down Raglan Parade with local support guiding him home.
“It got the hairs on the back of my neck going a bit coming into the finish,” Woolley said.
“It was really good at the finish having everyone yelling your name even though you’re two minutes behind the winner.
“It meant a lot more at that point. It was almost as good as a win getting that feeling.”
Woolley overcame a punctured tyre at the 30-kilometre mark to join a breakaway near Lismore.
“The best part was going from Lismore to Camperdown,” he said.
“I got in a seven-man breakaway including myself. I was in that up until Camperdown.
“I was out of danger and didn’t have guys laying an attack on me.”
Woolley said he dropped off at the first climb in Camperdown before working his way back on to the leading bunch at Cobden.
“I got in front and out of the wind when I could.”
Woolley said he was “bit delirious towards the end” of the Classic, which was run in warm, windy conditions.
The Melbourne-based bike mechanic withdrew from yesterday’s Shipwreck Coast Classic.
He was one of 65 riders forced out of the National Road Series’ penultimate round by poor weather.
“I pulled the pin at the 45-kilometre mark when the hail started getting us,” Woolley said.
Warrnambool veteran Brendan Pendergast finished the Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic in some 11 hours.
Pendergast, 60, completed his seventh Classic and first in 14 years.