Thirty-nine years ago, in the 1972 edition of the Herald Sun Tour, a man put himself through existential purgatory to win his one and only stage of what was then Australia’s most prestigious bike race. But as he tells Anthony Tan, it was what happened next that continues to beggar belief.
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM

'Twas a fetching Melbourne afternoon in mid-October. 1 p.m. Sunday October 16, to be precise.

Having gorged myself on a hearty but rather eggy breakfast with 'The Tominator' (a.k.a. Mike Tomalaris), the final stage of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour was about to begin in Lygon Street, Melbourne, where a few hours later, Nathan Haas would emerge as its fifty-ninth champion.

My driver for the week, John Osborne, who spends much of his time organising the Tour of Toowoomba, one of 12 National Road Series events, was already on his way back home to Southern Queensland. As you do on a bike race, we spent most of the week taking the piss out of each other.

(Worried his humour wasn't up to scratch, Osborne must've run home to work on his new joke book before next time we met.)

Instead, I was informed a man by the name of David Masterton would be driving me out to the Lygon St course where, during the 1980s and '90s, members of the notorious 'Carlton Crew', headed by the gangster Alphonse Gangitano, would regularly meet.
Gangitano was shot in the head 13 years ago, and his crime buddy-turned-adversary Jason Moran copped the same treatment eight years ago, so I didn't expect to see either of them there.

Anyway, being the gregarious guy I am, I introduced myself to Masterton with the familiar shake of the hand, whose 68-year-old face immediately told me there was a raft of intriguing stories behind his equally friendly façade.

"Hi, I'm Anthony, nice to meet you," I said.

"G'day. I'm Dave, and yes, I know who you are," Masterton replied.

"Oh?" I said, enquiringly.

"I watch Cycling Central each week," he told me, "and occasionally, I find myself shouting at you, in front of the TV screen."

I laughed out loud. So did my photographer mate, Mark Gunter, stationed in the back seat. (Gunter never says much – except when it comes to taking the piss out of me.)

But Masterton wasn't joking – he really does shout at me in front of his TV!

"You know, Dave, you'll have to get in line, mate, because there's a bit of a queue!"

Finally, a disarming smile emerged, and not long after, we began chatting away.

Turns out Masterton was a former rider in the swingin' '60s. He rode the Sun Tour four times and would later become race director from 1982-88.

But it's the story of his stage 'victory' in the 1972 edition that got me hooked. I say 'victory' because unbeknown to him, he would later be robbed of the very stage he almost killed himself to win.

This is his story.

Listen to podcast with David Masterton