Camperdown's Bailey McDonald has acknowledged the sacrifices of his support team in helping him realise his dream of stepping onto the podium for the 2023 Powercor Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic.
McDonald, 19, finished third in the gruelling 267km road race - the longest in Australia - behind eventual winner Tristan Saunders and runner-up Brendon Green.
"You're dreaming," McDonald said after the race. "This is really a home race (for me). You grow up watching this bike race and it's a big reason why you ride bikes.
You grow up watching this bike race and it's a big reason why you ride bikes.- Bailey McDonald
"It's not that long ago I was standing roadside watching this race and dreaming of perhaps being up there myself and you finally get the opportunity to and in my second Warrny come third and be on the podium, it really is nothing short of a dream come true."
McDonald finished 15th in his classic debut last year as an individual entry.
McDonald, who lives and trains in Brisbane with his brother Kurt, a triathlete, said he didn't want Saturday's result to be about him and credited the multitude of people who had helped him succeed.
"This event runs so deep in my family," he said. "It's the people over there and the crowd that this is for.
"The amount of sacrifice that they make on a personal level to put me in a position to succeed is what makes this so worth it.
"I can't wait to celebrate with them."
He added the support from his National Road Series team NCMG Criterion Racing was "unrivalled" and he "couldn't thank them enough".
"To my teammates who perhaps sacrificed their own ambitions today so that I could succeed," McDonald said. "I had a teammate in the break with me and he rode it for as long as he could and we just went for it."
McDonald said he couldn't wait to get back to his home-town Camperdown and celebrate the result with everyone.
"We have a great cycling community," he said. "(Camperdown export) Grace (Brown) is doing incredible things for cycling for Australia and the world, and as someone who grew up in Camperdown myself, if I can continue to put Camperdown on the map and inspire that next generation like she's inspired me I think I've done a good job."
McDonald will head back to Queensland next week in preparation for the Oceania Cycling Championships in April.
He said he would always return to the Melbourne to Warrnambool Classic if he could, with the ultimate dream of winning the iconic race one day.
"I obviously hope to come back with big aspirations to win the race but for now will take this and enjoy it for what it is, it's a pretty special moment," McDonald said.
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