FIFTEEN riders started and 13 finished the first Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic 125 years ago so it was only fitting 13 of the 15 riders who set out to commemorate the historic race finished its anniversary ride.
At 4.30am on Monday, the same time the original 15 departed, the group rolled off from the Haymarket roundabout on Elizabeth Street in central Melbourne.
This time the group rode together, with the first event a handicap, and was filled with Australian cycling royalty, past winners and finishers of the gruelling bike race.
The small peloton included Australian Tour de France legend Phil Anderson, former Mitchelton-Scott stalwart Simon Gerrans, AusCycling chairman Duncan Murray and past national champion Rob Crowe.
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Past winner Tim Decker, Tommy Nankervis, Olympic rowing gold medallist Drew Ginn, David Sturt, Brendan Rowbotham, Tim McGrath, Lee Turner, Ryan Brodie, Mark Ferguson, Anthony Somers and organiser Craig Fry accompanied them.
Fry, a Melbourne-based cycling historian who has ridden in two 'Warrnys', said the day was a success with the group also raising over $3000 for junior cycling in the south-west.
"It was a terrific day, we had mostly favourable weather conditions but just hot towards the end and it took its toll," he said.
"Unfortunately two of the riders are a little worse for wear but they are going to be OK. 15 started and 13 finished which interestingly was exactly the numbers who started and finished 125 years ago.
"It's kind of part of the mystic and the story about the race and that connection.
"The idea for me was always about starting from the same start line and finishing in the original finish line and stitching together parts of the course from over different eras."
The ride route covered more than 300-kilometres with a mix of the old and new race routes to represent the different eras (pre 1996, pre 2018, 2019-20).
Phil Anderson, the first Australian and non-European to wear the yellow leader's jersey of the Tour de France, never raced a Warrny but said Monday's ride was a great concession.
Duncan Murray said the anniversary ride "was more special than just an ordinary race".
"When we left in the morning we were riding through Altona and Tim Decker was riding beside Rob Crowe and Phil Anderson with Simon Gerrans.
"This is such a iconic bike race and to spend the day tapping out a hybrid mixture of courses starting in North Melbourne, where the original one did.
"The first time I did it started in the city square and a lot started in Werribee and we went past there and mixed in part of the new course and through the Camperdown hills and back onto the highway.
"So to ride that hybrid course, with such a special group of guys, was really quite memorable.
It was just one of those days you just savour every moment."
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