Nathan Elliott, a final year student of Parade College in 2008, has ridden his way into cycling history, becoming the first man to win back-to-back Melbourne to Warrnambool cycling classics in the 102-year history of the race.
Nathan completed what Cycling Victoria reported was “one of the bravest and most daring rides” yet seen, in Saturday’s event. He was part of a six-rider breakaway from the outset in the torturous 277-kilometre trip but, despite a lead of more than five minutes, was collared by the two mountain stages at Camperdown with 65 kilometres to race.
The 26-year-old was part of every attempted breakaway for the next 50 kilometres before he “went for broke” with six kilometres to ride.
Resting up at his home in Doreen yesterday, Nathan said this latest development brought sweet finality to a “pretty rough” year in which he survived a near-death experience in Adelaide.
“I got hit by a car head-on at the end of January,” Nathan said. “I suffered a brain injury and shattered my arm which ended up with five rods.
“I was very lucky. I was riding up a hill when a four-wheel drive towing a trailer came flying around a blind corner in the opposite direction and took me out.
“Everyone was telling me whether or not I should get back on a bike, but I just got back on it literally.”
Nathan’s stunning success was conveyed to OPA Central by an old Parade schoolmate Daniel Peck, as the thousands cheered Nathan over the line.
“I really went for it at the two-kilometre mark, dug deep, and gee, it was hard those last 300 metres up the hill and into a head wind,” Nathan said immediately afterwards.
“But I wanted it so bad. I knew nobody had gone back-to-back in this great race and when I had it in my grasp I certainly wasn’t going to die wondering - I just gave it everything I had.”
Asked to explain why it was that no cyclist had previously completed back-to-back victories in this road race, Nathan replied: “I guess it’s the hardest race in Australia, and because of the wind factor every year it can play out in so many different ways”.
“When I won it last year there were 60-kilometre an hour cross-winds which decimated the peleton, whereas this year it was an easier race in the bunch. Sometimes you can have 100 guys easily getting to the finish, whereas in other instances you don’t, so it pretty much depends on the weather.
“That’s what makes it such a special race.”
Nathan only began to cycle in his days as a Year 11 student at the college, which he conceded is reasonably late in a cyclist’s lifetime, with his father’s old road bike the lure.
“I started riding that bike and my enjoyment just grew and grew,” Nathan said.
And the rest, as they say, is cycling history.
Currently a full-time rider having completed his under graduate degree in biomedicine, Nathan indicated he’ll ultimately return to University to complete his doctorate in medicine.
But first thing’s first, and he’ll rest up in time to compete in a road race in Gippsland later this week, and hopefully follow his dream to race in the marquee cycling events in Europe.
If time and circumstance permits, Nathan said he also intended to participate in the Old Paradians’ Association’s Alphington-Bundoora cycle which coincides with the College’s Open Day in February.