THE 108TH MELBOURNE TO WARRNAMBOOL
It may be the last race of summer, but this weekend’s Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Festival marks the beginning of Australia’s domestic road series.
Saturday will host Australia’s oldest bike race, the Powercor Melbourne to Warrnambool. The men will cover 267km in the 108th edition on Saturday.
While Sunday will be the third edition of the Lochard Energy Warrnambool Women’s Classic, a standalone race for Australia’s top cyclists.
This weekend’s forecast is shaping up nicely with cool and sunny conditions for both days, but the threat of crosswinds for Sunday is growing. While the men have a forecasted light south-westerly breeze the women may have to contend with a strong southerly breeze.
Powercor Melbourne to Warrnambool
The 108th edition of the Powercor Melbourne to Warrnambool begins at Avalon airport, where 168 riders will commence the 267km route to Warrnambool.
The route remains unchanged from last year, which takes riders south-west through to Colac, onto the coast at Post Campbell and finally heading towards the finish on Raglan Parade in Warrnambool.
A challenging course that features 1,743m of climbing along the 267km route will make for exciting racing. Often the race’s most decisive point comes once the pelotons hits the coast.
This final 80-kilometre stretch is where the fatigue starts to mount, the rolling hills often exposed to the wind creates for exciting racing where a range of scenarios that can play out on the run in to Warrnambool.
Last year’s winner Tristan Saunders will aim to defend his title, the BridgeLane rider will be hard to beat as he won’t be lacking the legs or teammates to possibly go back-to-back.
Saunders, alongside teammates Jackson Medway and Luke Burns, will look to continue their incredible summer, where the trio featured at this year’s Tour Down Under and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.
CCACHE x Par Küp alongside a young ARA-Skip Capital will be hoping to put a stop to BridgeLane summer of success.
Liam White, Alastair Christie-Johnston and Ryan Schilt will lead CCACHE x Par Küp this Saturday, the trio having all regularly featured at the top of AusCycling’s National Road Series.
ARA-Skip Capital will look to Declan Trezise to lead a young squad at this year’s Powercor Melbourne to Warrnambool. The Sunshine coast team will be hoping Trezise, at only 21 years old, can produce a result this Saturday.
Cycling Development Foundation’s Brendon Green will be hoping to go one better this year. Last year’s runner-up, Green will lead the West Australian team this Saturday and will look to lean on his experience from last year.
Brendon Davids is always a rider to watch, the South African was fourth last year and will lead the Villawood outfit this Saturday. Davids is in good form with a recent fourth place at this year’s inaugural Rad Gravl.
St George Continental have brought a strong squad to this year’s Powercor Melbourne to Warrnambool. A trio consisting of Conor Sens, Ben Carman and Lachlan Harrigan will certainly be in the mix for a result come Saturday, they’ll be hoping for a hard selective finale.
Come Saturday, Blackshaw’s racing Ben Hill will be hoping his time has come, the 33-year-old has had multiple top ten finishes and podiums at the Melbourne to Warrnambool whilst also coming close at the Grafton to Inverell.
Also, veteran Mark O’Brien and newly crowned under-23 national road champion Fergus Browning are a pair to keep an eye out for this Saturday.
Lochard Energy Warrnambool Women’s Classic
The women begin their ‘Warrny’ in Colac on Sunday and will follow the same route that the men take on Saturday.
From Colac it’s a 160-kilometre-long journey featuring 1,520m of climbing, making the Lochard Energy Warrnambool Women’s Classic one of the longest women’s races worldwide.
History shows that fatigue will also be a major factor in the finale on Sunday as both previous editions of the Lochard Energy Warrnambool Women’s Classic have the winner emerge from a severely reduced peloton.
Undoubtedly the biggest name to be on the start line at this year’s Lochard Energy Warrnambool Women’s Classic is World Tour Professional Grace Brown.
Brown, a four-time Australian national time trial champion, who has also bagged a handful of world tour victories will be making her Lochard Energy Warrnambool Women’s Classic debut this Sunday.
Despite Brown being on debut, she isn’t a stranger to the ‘Warrny’, having grown up in Camperdown, Victoria’s south-west and is also a winner of last year’s Dirty Warrny.
Brown will need to play her cards carefully, riding against a host of strong teams she will be carefully marked and will need a hard race that leads to a selective finale if she’s going to win on home roads.
ARA-Skip Capital are top of the contenders list of who can challenge Brown. The Sunshine coast outfit will be led by reigning champion Sophie Edwards, alongside teammates and fellow top five finishers Lucinda Stewart and Lucie Fityus.
Leading the charge for BridgeLane will be two-time winner Matilda Raynolds. She was close to collecting another Warrny last year after a third-place finish. Raynolds has had a strong summer with impressive outings at Tour Down Under and Deakin University Elite Women’s Road Race.
However, Raynolds isn’t racing alone, teammates Lille Pollock and Katelyn Nicholson pack plenty of punch. All three will be happy the race is hard early on.
If it comes down to a bunch kick, then Odette Lynch with Total Rush Women’s Team is an outside chance. From the West coast, Cycling Development Foundation will be hoping Savannah Coupland can produce a result.