Cycling race down to wire

The 94th edition of the Collie to Donnybrook and Return Cycle Classic drew cyclists from across the South-West as they took over local roads on the weekend.

Missing severe storms by mere hours, the weather smiled down on the 104 kilometre course.

Cycling Classic: Lowen Ferry took out third place in the Collie to Donnybrook and Return Cycling Classic on the weekend. Photo: Taylar Amonini.

Cycling Classic: Lowen Ferry took out third place in the Collie to Donnybrook and Return Cycling Classic on the weekend. Photo: Taylar Amonini.

Beginning with a 35-minute start on the scratch bunch, a hard but not impossible task, the front markers started well but staying together through the hills of Mumballup proved difficult for most as the bunches began to string out.

Groups of twos and threes began forming along the flat road to Donnybrook, soon to be picked up by the middle markers.

The strong scratch bunch maintained a good pace on the trip to Donnybrook, catching the middle markers with ease.

As the first group of riders turned into Donnybrook, only 13 minutes separated them from the scratch riders, setting the scene for a competitive race on the return journey to Collie.

Perth riders Oli Stenning and Ricky Andrews took control at this midway point to surge ahead of the scratch bunch, combining their formidable skills to begin catching up to the riders ahead.

As the lead groups of 20 riders turned at Mumballup, Stenning and Andrews were hot on its heels and soon began to drop them as they climbed through the hills.

Stenning and Andrews held off the group through the hills, maintaining tight leads through the challenging terrain.

Coming down to a sprint between the two boys on Throssell Road, it was Stenning who grasped the upper hand by a mere bike length on the finish line.

The remainder of the lead group came in only seconds after the top two positions, with scratch only minutes behind.

Third place was taken by Lowen Ferry and Bunbury rider Mick Darlington scooped up fourth place.

First place winner Oli Stenning also took fastest time honours, completing the course in only two hours, 19 minutes and 18 seconds - two minutes outside the race record.

High on endorphins and sweat, Stenning was on cloud nine as he cooled down post-ride.

"The race had a fast start and rolled reasonably well to Donnybrook," he said.

"Around 55 kilometres into the race, myself and Ricky Andrews surged off the front of the ground and decided to push it and see what we could do.

"We worked very well together and eventually the main group were out of sight, and we began catching the riders ahead.

"We had a few digs at each other on the hills but couldn't break each other, then had to give it everything to not let the final determined riders get on our wheel."

Recording his highest hour heart rate, Stenning found his sprinting legs in the home stretch and managed to get around Mr Andrews for the win.

The 21-year-old Perth rider has been racing triathlons since he was a child and now holds a professional triathlon license.

Among his many race titles, Stenning has been named WA State Open champion four times and competed in the Collie to Donnybrook and Return Cycling Classic five years ago.

In the 40km under-15 handicap, Callum McGilvray took out top spot, followed by Finlay McCrobbie and Isabella Commons.

In the 56km under-17 handicap, Matthew Connan took out top spot, followed by Joshua Commons and Harrison Lawler.

The winners were toasted post race during a presentation and celebration at the Crown Hotel.