THE ILL-FORTUNES of two teammates was the catalyst for a late burst which secured the prestigious Women’s Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic for Tessa Fabry.
Fabry downed Queenslander Fiona Yard and fellow Melbourner Jessica Lane to take the ultimate crown in a day in which just four female competitors crossed the finish.
The 28-year-old said she was on the brink of collapse many times throughout the 277 kilometre race, but found the legs to push through to secure a famous victory.
She crossed the finish line just moments ahead of Yard, in a time of seven hours and 45 minutes.
“We had a bit of bad luck with my teammates who had race-ending mechanicals early in the race, so I knew I had to keep going for them as well,” Fabry said.
“I knew that if they were in my position, they would have kept going. They wouldn’t have pulled out because they didn’t feel good.
“Thinking about them and kind of trying to take the race 20 kilometres at a time (got me through).
The Brunswick Cycling Club rider and freelance photographer said relief was the overriding feeling when she crossed into the final stretch of Raglan Parade.
“Coming into the finished, I was relieved and really happy that I’d actually managed to finish a race,” she said.
“There were so many points where I thought I was about to stop. But in that last 500 metres, I thought I’d go for the sprint to see if I had any legs left in me, and to my surprise, I did.
“This win definitely ranks right up there. The Melbourne to Warrnambool is such an iconic event. It’s the second longest one-day cycling event in the world.”
At 277 kilometres, the race surpassed distance regulations for both male and female cyclists, as it required an exemption to the distance rulings in order to be sanctioned. Fabry, a High5 Dream Team rider, said the event presented a rare opportunity for female athletes to race a long distance. It is unique in that both men and women line up at the Werribee starting line together.
“It’s a really rare opportunity for women to have a try at racing longer distances,” she said.
“That’s really good for a challenge and so we prove to ourselves that we can do it. I like that aspect and I like that now, there is a separate women’s category.
“I think it’s encouraged more women to enter the race.”
Fabry finished second behind Yard in the Women’s Victoria 200km Championship, which was held as a part of the race.