It’s shaping to be one of the best editions of the Powercor Melbourne to Warrnambool, with a field of top-tier cyclists assembled for the oldest, longest and toughest road race in Australia.
Recently crowned elite Australian national championships winners Cameron Meyer and Lucas Plapp will race in the men’s category and Annette Edmondson will be one of the favourites in the women’s race.
Those riders are just some of what is a highly-credentialled field, featuring riders who have won track world championship titles, Commonwealth Games gold medals and Paralympic Games gold medals to go with the in-form riders coming off recent success at the Australian national championships.
“I’m overwhelmed at the quality of the field we’ve assembled, especially given two weeks ago we had 30 entries and we weren’t sure if the event would event go ahead,” said event race director Karin Jones. “To turn that around to be one of the best fields ever assembled is incredible.”
The men’s field will see a significant amount of strength in the Powercor Composite team, a collection of riders who don’t normally compete together under the major sponsor’s banner with a pedigree advantage on much of the field.
Meyer will be joined by Commonwealth Games gold medallists and multiple track world champions Sam Welsford and Leigh Howard, alongside a host of riders signed with overseas teams in Brenton Jones (Canyon-dhb Sungod), Nathan Earle (Team UKYO) and Scott Bowden.
The Powercor team will have its work cut out for it as it comes head-to-head with the cream of the Australian racing scene – 215 male entrants for Powercor Melbourne to Warrnambool – with the 267-kilometre race an important one in the pursuit of National Road Series success.
All eyes will be on Inform TMX MAKE after the team had an amazing return at the national championships, winning the elite time trial with Plapp, the Under 23 time trial with Carter Turnbull, nearly winning the elite road race with second-placed Kell O’Brien and completing a complete sweep of the podium in the Under 23 road race with Tom Benton, Rudy Porter and Turnbull.
Those riders will be joined by Commonwealth Games gold medallist Steele von Hoff, 2018 National Road Series champion Raphael Freienstein and 2020 Melbourne to Warrnambool third-place getter Mark O’Brien for one of the most impressive domestic rosters.
The women’s race has attracted riders of the top calibre, with Edmondson being joined on the startline at Avalon Airport by seven-year professional rider Carlee Taylor (Roxsolt Liv SRAM) and defending champion Matilda Raynolds (Specialized), who is unfortunately coming off a nasty crash at the national championships.
The 12 starters in the women’s field are all top quality, made up from the top domestic teams in Australia.
The 2021 Powercor Melbourne to Warrnambool will be run on February 13, starting from sponsors Avalon Airport in the morning at 7.50am AEDT and finishing on Raglan Parade Warrnambool with an expected mid-afternoon finish. The race will be streamed live on SBS Cycling Central’s Facebook page with the audio commentary run on 3YB/Coast FM Warrnambool. The last 100 kilometres of the race of the legendary race will be brought to screens all over the world from 11.30am AEDT.
Notable male starters:
Cameron Meyer (Powercor Composite Team), Elite National Road Race Champion, track World Championships gold medallist
Lucas Plapp (Inform TMX MAKE), Australian Elite Time Trial Champion
Sam Welsford (Powercor Composite Team), 2x Commonwealth Games gold medallist, track World Championships gold medallist
Brenton Jones (Powercor Composite Team), 2019 Australian Elite men’s Criterium champion
Kelland O’Brien (Inform TMX MAKE), Commonwealth Games gold medallist, track World Championships gold medallist
Leigh Howard (Powercor Composite Team), Commonwealth Games gold medallist, track World Championships gold medallist
Steele Von Hoff (Inform TMX MAKE), Commonwealth Games gold medallist
Brendan Johnston (CCS Cycling), Defending champion, 2020 National Road Series Champion
Jeremy Hunt, winner of 2000 Australian Elite National Road Race, two-time British National Road Race champion
Nick White (Team Bridgelane), 2019 Melbourne to Warrnambool winner
Neil van der Ploeg, 2017 Grafton To Inverell winner
Will Hodges (Oliver’s Real Food Racing), 2019 Grafton to Inverell winner
Raphael Freienstein (Inform TMX MAKE), 2018 National Road Series Champion
Matthew Rice (ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast), Australian Under 23 men’s Criterium champion
Thomas Benton (Inform TMX MAKE), Current Under 23 men’s road race champion.
Michael Gallagher 2 x Paralympic gold medals, 11x World Championship gold medals
Alistair Donohoe (ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) – 2x Paralympic silver medals, 8x World Championships gold medals
Notable female starters:
Annette Edmondson, Elite Women’s Criterium Champion
Carlee Taylor (Roxsolt Liv SRAM), former professional rider for seven years
Matilda Raynolds (Specialized Women’s Racing), Defending champion