After finishing in the top 10 in my first attempt at the Warrny way back in 2012 (I believe) I had a goal to win the event one day. A good friend and role model of mine Joel Pearson won the next few editions that I went on to attempt. I found it such a challenge to be strong in the end of such a long race in sometimes brutal conditions. I had the opportunity to come back and race it with the Stitch and Dart team in 2019 through my association with Giant. The had some great riders and staff that were able to support us towards a good result. I wanted to be the break, we did everything we could to make it, I was started to blow from having so many attempts to bridge or make a break, when finally we were away. I rode it and committed to the move knowing we had the right combination of riders.
I probably over rode it to be honest but once the time gap blew out we were able to relax a little. I tried a few moves on the run into Warrnambool, but nothing would stick, there were too many fresh legs and good riders in the group. I’ve not been know for my sprint but seem to be able to pull something out from a small group and a hard race. Getting onto the podium in 3rd spot was great, I did see it as a missed opportunity in such a big race. I’ll be back in 2020 to give it another crack.
The Melbourne to Warrnambool is by far my favourite race on the calendar. I believe it should be on every cyclists bucket list to race. I’ve raced the Melbourne to Warrnambool three times now, my best result was 9th, after a long day chasing back a break.
I think the best aspect about this race is that you don’t have to be an NRS rider or A grade level rider to race it. Anyone can turn up and race it, and compete against some of the best riders in the country.
My advice for anyone racing for the first time, you don’t need to go out and do heaps of massive long training rides to prepare for this race, My only advice is to do one big ride and focus on your nutrition throughout the ride, because at the end of the day this is always going to be a race of nutrition.
Having good bunch skills would be my number one tip for this race, being able to sit comfortably around 250 riders and towards the front is key, especially when coming up to turns in crosswind sections. I would suggest racing some local criterium’s before racing if you’re not used to riding in big pelotons.