IT was the history-making win that very easily might not have happened.
Nathan Elliott, who became the first person ever to claim back-to-back wins in the Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic on Saturday, is only just starting to regain the form that saw his take out the 2016 edition after recovering from a major accident earlier this year.
He collided with a vehicle while competing in the Tour Down Under in Adelaide in January, suffering a major injury to his arm and a minor brain injury.
“I got hit by a car during the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, head-on, and got a pretty bad knock to the head and had to get rods put in my hand and arm,” Elliott said.
“I was off the bike for two or three months and managed to get just fit enough to go overseas with my team – we do a Europe stint – so it was good to get back for that, but now I’m actually starting to go well, which is good.”
Elliott finished the 102nd running of the iconic road race in six hours, 34 minutes and 23 seconds, having broken away early in the piece with a breakaway, which was caught by the peloton just past Camperdown.
“I managed to get an early break and there was only five or six of us, which made it pretty tough,” Elliott said.
“Then we got caught a bit after Camperdown, 200km in, and I thought that might have been all over, but I managed to do a late attack and take it.
“Koen De Kort, who is a pretty good rider internationally, slipped up the front and I covered that move and then attacked him and ended up solo off the front, and then an NSWIS (team) rider edged across and I managed to attack him from the same spot I won from last year.
“It’s pretty special, I suppose, the ride this year. I knew no one had gone back-to-back, so it was good motivation.
“I didn’t know I had it until right on the line.”
Waiting to greet Elliott on the line were his ecstatic parents, John and Sofi, who were quick to embrace their son after the race.
John said the win, on the back of such an attacking ride, was testament to Elliott’s determination.
“He had an extremely bad accident at the start of the year in Adelaide … so it held up a few of his plans, but it certainly shows what he’s made of,” John said.
“He was very determined to show that he can do it again, and it wasn’t just a one-go (win last year).
“He has a go and he’s very determined. I was just amazed that he could do it – I didn’t think he could go again, especially after the accident this year.
“I’m just so very proud of him. His parents are more proud of him as a person than as a bike rider.”
Ryan Cavanagh, who was part of the early breakaway with Elliott, took out the trifecta of in-race championships, claiming the King of the Mountain, Sprint and 200km titles, but finished 54th overall, unable to again emerge from the peloton.
Jarrod Currie took out the B grade win in six hours, 34 minutes and 25 seconds, Simon Hubbard won the C grade in six hours, 55 minutes and 31 seconds and Alexis Kaless won the D grade in seven hours, 29 minutes and 43 seconds.