Almanac Cycling: Winning is not always defined by crossing the line first

While the fastest two wheels were flying this weekend on Phillip Island, a slower but tougher two-wheeled race was contested on the other side of the Bay. The Melbourne to Warrnambool (M2W) is the oldest road race in Australia and second oldest one-day cycling event in the World, this year was the one hundredth edition.

The Classic began as the result of a bet with 24 cyclists pedalling along what we now know as the Princes Hwy. Respected by those who have completed the course, the M2W was a handicap race until 1996, when all riders rode from scratch.

Notable winners include Nullawil’s Albert Nioa in 1901 who pedalled 200 miles to get to the start of the race. He then defied atrocious conditions to win it in 9 hours, 20 minutes, 40 seconds. In 1909 Snowy Munro rode the distance faster than the Train Service in 7 hours, 12 minutes, 51 seconds, beating the best rail time by 5 minutes.

The 2007 winner Tim Decker, now Track Endurance Coach of Cycling Australia attempted his 18th Warrnambool. With a reasonable record of finishing 3rd in 1999 and 2009, Tim has challenged his Track cyclists to complete the M2W, with this year’s winner Scott Sunderland and runner-up Alex Edmondson notable members of his squad.

Alex’s effort is remarkable considering he had knee surgery two months prior and here he is back on his bike challenging for the win.

Acknowledged as one of the toughest one day cycling events in Australia, the 2015 M2W witnessed an effort by Tim Decker that challenges athlete’s limitations.

Tim could not resist the temptation to ride the anniversary edition in 2015, however this time last year he had what could best be described as a monumental stack. On a training ride with members of his squad in the Adelaide Hills, Tim flew down a reasonable descent and with brakes giving way, the fall on the bitumen was inevitable.

With a severely gashed arm and 30 stitches, Tim thought he got away in relatively good shape.

Prior to flying to London for a World Cup event, Tim complained to his wife Michelle about his headaches and she demanded he get a check-up before the flight. Fortunately, Tim’s doctor discovered severe bleeding on the brain, requiring immediate surgery. Flying with this injury would have proved near fatal.

Confined to bed for three months, Tim’s injury was not just physical but emotional.

Taking time out during the busy Summer Cycling season was difficult for Tim and with his determination to oversee plans and riders for the National and World Championships, Tim’s rehabilitation was interrupted.

Deciding to get back on his bike, Tim set himself a challenge, the Melbourne to Warrnambool in 2015.

Having covered over 9,000 km in training, Tim prepped himself for this year’s classic, “I have done a lot of work and put in the hard yards,” he says. It’s been a challenge. It’s not about crossing the line first, but I want to be able to do something during the race and put in a good ride. Just training for the race has helped restore my confidence in a lot of things.”

With a field of 300 riders that tackled the 2015 historic staging of the classic, Tim finished 60th.

The final position or time wasn’t important, setting a target and fulfilling his challenge was a well deserved victory.


About David Parker

A keen observer of all things sport and a Swans tragic, David likes to dabble in sporting documentaries including the Max Bailey doco for Fox Footy. David is currently filming a documentary on the Australian Cycling Men's Team Pursuit squad as they prepare for the 2016 Rio Olympics.


  1. Thanks for this great report, David.
    I love the history of the M2W, and cannot understand why it doesn’t
    get as much media attention as it should.

    And hats off to Tim – a magnificent effort whichever way you look at it.

  2. David Griffin says

    Good story.
    The Melbourne to Warrnambool and the Stawell Gift, two of Australia’s sporting gems!!
    Well done

  3. Peter Fuller says

    When I was a youngster, we lived about three miles off the Princes (only one “s”) Highway. Most years we would do the very mini-version of this marathon ride to watch these iron men (no women riders in the 1950s and ’60s) do their stuff.
    I’ve previously regaled the Almanac community with the marathoners’ mantra, which powerfully applies to Tim Decker.
    “There are three categories of winner in a marathon, first across the line,everyone who crosses the finish line, everyone who makes the start line.”
    I generally think that cyclists – especially long distance road cyclists – are the toughest of athletes.
    Played Tim, and a fine piece of work, David

  4. Richard Wright says

    Great write up on the magnificent Tim Decker! Another good story in this race edition is Wayne Hidred. He is recorded as holding the Melbourne Warrnambool race record for 9 years, but did not ever win the overall handicap. He raced this year, a fortnight after his 60th birthday, and won D Grade!

  5. David Conallin says

    great race. hope there are many more cycling articles

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