The Powercor Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic will reap the rewards of its calendar move to book-end the Australian ‘Summer of Cycling’ in 2020.
The race, originally held in October, moved to the February date in 2019 and will this year see riders from the WorldTour stay ‘down under’ in order to race the Classic.
Israel Start-Up Nation’s Mihkel Raim (Estonia) will be joined by Israel Cycling Academy’s Ben Perry (Canada) for the 267 kilometre race from Avalon Airport to Warrnambool on February 15.
Team Director Sportif Zak Dempster – who won the Melbourne to Warrnambool in 2008 – said the race suited the team’s early season plans.
“Ben and Miku are both down to do the Tour of Hainan in China which starts on the 23rd of February, so it doesn’t make too much sense to do the trip to Europe after Sun Tour, only to turn around and head back the same direction a few days later,” explained Dempster.
“We organised a mini training camp with some support in Melbourne so they can go about their preparation for the season in warmer climates, and the Melbourne to Warrnambool is timed perfectly with that.
“Miku is very fast and versatile, he’s a proven winner and world class rider. Ben is a solid one day rider with wins to his name in Europe, Asia and North America. He has great potential so this year is the season he really needs to convert it.
“It’s a race that’s suited very well to both their characteristics so I’d expect to see them fighting it out for the win.”
Dempster had some advice for the Estonian and Canadian riders.
“Be aggressive, you can’t be on the back foot in the race so it’s easier to go on the attack. It’s also the longest race they will probably do all year, so of course fuelling is very important!
“Winning the race in 2008 is one of my fondest memories of being a rider as my Dad won the D grade category that day. All in all it was just a really great day and I’ll never forget it,” said Dempster.
Entries are still open for the 104th Powercor Melbourne to Warrnambool. If the 267kms sounds too much for you, why not enter the 76kms Royal Bikes Port Campbell to Warrnambool Handicap instead. Experience the thrill of finishing on Raglan Parade just a few hours before the pros. Enter here.
Stay the night in Warrnambool and attend the Smedts Construction Legends of Cycling Dinner to hear from one of the greatest Australian pros – Mark Renshaw – talk about life as a professional and lead-out man for Mark Cavendish. Buy Tickets here.
Race the Lady Bay Resort Middle Island Criterium on Sunday February 16. Enter here.