Warragul was treated to an enormous cycling weekend as the Malaysian Airlines Herald Sun Tour made a stopover on Friday night to complete their penultimate stage on Saturday – an 87km race from Warragul to Mt Baw Baw. Over 100 cycling enthusiasts attended a dinner on Friday night, hosted by the Warragul Cycling Club, where attendees heard racing anecdotes, tips and other yarns from Athens gold medallist Luke Roberts; 10 yr Pro veteran and Sydney Olympian Henk Vogels; local superstar Joel Pearson; youngster and stage winner of the Tour’s final day on Sunday, Will Walker; and Giro d’Italia rider Trent Wilson, among others. Saturday morning saw gloomy skies greet riders, fans and curious locals out to the start of Stage 12 in Queen Street Warragul where a huge crowd gathered to see the field depart. Fortunately the weather picked up as the course headed further north and increased in altitude, clearing enough for a bright welcome for exhausted riders as they crossed the finish line.
The Baw Baw journey is fast becoming one of the most feared rides in Australia, and Saturday proved no exception. St Kilda cyclist and newcomer to the sport, 21-year-old Matthew Lloyd used past experience from the Baw Baw Classic earlier this year to attack the field mid-race and continue on his charge past early leaders from the gatehouse and onto the carpark finish for victory. The tough final kilometres claimed Victorian rider David McKenzie’s hold on the leaders jersey, who gave everything in the chase to retain his overall lead. His time lost on the overall classification to Jonas Ljungblad meant the Swede only had to remain upright at the Tour’s final stage in Traralgon on Sunday to take out the overall victory, his greatest win of his cycling career.