Sunderrland (Budget Forklifts) survived the massive field, distance and repeated attacks to turn what should be a stayers race into a sprinters's victory.
“The team rode superb with Jack Bobridge and Jake Kauffman in the breakaway, setting it up beautifully for the finish," Sunderland said.
“I rode this race last year and it was difficult after an early crash, which helped me put a plan in place for today, and I felt good all day with my team around me. It was great to get the win.
“The run to the finish was really fast, everyone was closing gaps quickly, and there was a lot of nervousness coming in, but the team got together well and did a perfect job in that final kilometre.”
The 100th edition of the Melbourne to Warrnambool left Werribee peloton eager to be positioned at the front of the bunch in preparation for the attacks that would follow.
Ed White and Tyson Chambers were the first riders to get away first, before being joined by Peter Casey, Sam Hill and Nick Squillari.
The group worked together to establish a lead of over eight minutes at the 100km mark before they were joined by Kauffman who put in a colossal 50km solo chase.
The group of six took advantage of the pelotons seeming reluctance to work together, and extended their lead to over 16 minutes.
With the pace slackening, Bobridge, Brad Linfield and Darcy Woolley animated the remainder of the race with an attack, eating into the time gap to the front of the race.
At 75km to go, the lead group was down to five but still held dreams of fighting it out for overall victory, however the Bobridge chase group had sparked the peloton into life, and their lead came down under the five minute mark.
With 30km to go a now solo Kauffman was joined by Bobridge, and the two set to work to try and go 1-2 at the finish line.
It wasn’t to be for the two escapees, as they were caught inside the final 10km, setting up an electric bunch sprint, where Sunderland showed his class to claim yet another win in the Subaru National Road Series.
In the inaugural Women’s Melbourne to Warrnambool, it was Lauretta Hanson who sprinted home to take the victory ahead of Miranda Griffiths. Chloe McIntosh crossed the line shortly after to take third.