Time-honoured Goldfields Cyclassic showcasing the best riders since 1928

Neale HarveyKalgoorlie Miner
Jayson Puls, winner of the Menzies cycle race in 2007, is congratulated by teammate and fifth-placegetter Scott Agyles.
Camera IconJayson Puls, winner of the Menzies cycle race in 2007, is congratulated by teammate and fifth-placegetter Scott Agyles. Credit: Tony Holmes/Kalgoorlie Miner

The Goldfields Cyclassic’s reputation among Australia’s most unique and time-honoured road events was perhaps best summed up last year.

After COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the 2020 event, there were obvious concerns the Cyclassic might struggle to reach the same heights as previous years, or continue at all.

The pandemic, however, proved to be only a minor setback, with about 120 riders facing the starter when it resumed in 2021.

With 190 riders, the 2006 event represents the pinnacle — a far cry from the 24 riders who contested the inaugural 1928 event.

R. Bennets was the inaugural winner after completing the 81-mile journey from Menzies to Kalgoorlie in 5hr. 55min. 45sec.

Once it became a handicapped race, R. Hudson set the bar high by recording a time of 4:48:45.

In 1994, the Chas Egan Menzies to Kalgoorlie Memorial, as it was then known, was dedicated to three EGCC stars of yesteryear — Egan, Dave Dellar, and Lionel Hitchcock.

That year’s race, instead of finishing in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, concluded in the main street of Menzies as part of the town’s centenary celebrations.

That break from tradition was considered a one-off for a special occasion, but would in fact pave the way for permanent change years later.

In 2018, the 90th anniversary event drew 120 riders, including 78 in the main race.

The 1994 program, however, was tinged with sadness after Dellar, the 1934 winner, died four months earlier.

Other historic names attached to the Cyclassic include George Hebbard, who clocked the fastest time in the 1939 event at 3:35:35.

It was eventually broken by Esperance rider Andrew Sime, to the tune of 20 minutes, in 1993.

Hebbard’s time, however, was lauded because it was recorded when there was no main road.

Most of the journey consisted of sand and corrugations, with only a very short stretch of bitumen.

The 1997 race was one for the ages, with Geraldton’s Paul Hearne taking line honours.

He clocked 3:11, but the real star was Perth’s Ryan Suckling.

A year earlier, Perth rider Chris Brown had set a new record pace.

Suckling, however, became the first rider to finish the journey inside three hours by clocking 2:56.

It eclipsed Brown’s mark by eight minutes.

At just 19, Suckling was coming off victory in the WA open long-distance championship and a 13th-place effort in the prestigious Herald Sun Tour of Victoria.

In a stark reminder of the gruelling nature of road cycling, Suckling said his Menzies to Kalgoorlie win “was a good result as it takes away some of the pain”.

Perth rider Jayson Puls enjoyed a remarkable change in fortunes as he streaked to victory in the 2007 event.

A year earlier, Puls had crossed the finishing line bloodied and bruised after being knocked unconscious in a heavy crash.

In the 2006 race, Puls punctured a tyre 15km out of Menzies and at the 100km mark, touched the wheels of a rival and went over the handle bars.

He was knocked unconscious and his helmet broken, but he still finished.

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