Victoria is now home to the longest women’s one-day Classic in the world – lead by an all-female executive team – who will also oversee the famous men’s event in 2022.
The new race format, officially titled the ‘Lochard Energy Women’s Warrnambool Cycling Classic’ was launched this morning and will be held across the weekend of February 19 and 20, 2022 with Raglan Pde Warrnambool the destination for this endurance event.The overall Powercor Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic has been run since 1895 and will write a new chapter in its rich history with the first exclusively women’s event.
The women will race from Colac to Warrnambool, the160-kilometre race set to be the longest single day road race for women anywhere in the world for 2022. The women who have raced the Melbourne to Warrnambool in the past have done so alongside the men, with now-professional Lauretta Hanson the first officially recognised winner of the ‘race within the race’ in 2015.
Matilda Raynolds took out the women’s title last year and says:
“This is fantastic, and while I will miss rubbing shoulders and racing with the boys it is so good to finally have a Women’s event that we can call our own and continue to grow the breadth and depth of the women’s field and as the event solidifies itself, we will get WorldTour riders.
“I’m incredibly grateful to so many people, like our race executive who have paved the way previously. I’m always conscious of the symbolism, especially to that little girl who might be watching on the sideline as we go through these country towns – you can’t be what you can’t see, so I’m excited to be able to provide that for young women and it becomes a global event we can all be proud of.”
Inaugural ‘Women’s Warrny’ naming rights sponsor Lochard Energy CEO Anthony Fowler:
“Lochard Energy value’s diversity and creating opportunities for women in all pursuits and we are proud to be championing women in sport in the local region through our sponsorship of this inaugural professional women’s cycling event.
We hope to see it become an ongoing premier race on the women’s circuit, providing further opportunities to develop world class female cyclists along with the increased economic benefits to the local communities throughout the Western District,”
The men’s race will be back bigger and better. The oldest and longest event in Australia will travel the traditional 267 Kilometres from Avalon for the 106th edition of the prestigious race, with past winners among the legends of Australian cycling. The 2021 champion, Jensen Plowright, will be racing off in Europe next year with a prestigious French team, highlighting the effect of winning the Melbourne to Warrnambool.
Powercor are continuing in their role as the major sponsor of the race, everyone knows their importance to the region as a supporter of events and communities!
Nina Ivanovic: Powercor Brand & Partnerships Lead | Corporate Affairs
“We’re excited to be partnering with this event once again. Our network is at the heart of the 267km route, areas that we support, where our employees live and work, and love to shout about,” Ms Ivanovic said. “Our staff have a long association with this race, and we’re excited that several staff will compete once again, as part of our efforts to support team members have a healthy work-life balance.”
It’s not just champions on the road, but former greats of women’s cycling that will bring the new event to the picturesque scenes of the Great Ocean Road. Event Director KARIN JONES leads an all-female executive team including Race Director ELIZABETH TAYLOR (nee Tadich), Patron TRACEY GAUDRY, and Chief Commissaire KAREN O’CALLAGHAN.
Gaudry was the first women to make the time cut in the Classic in the 1994 edition and has since gone on to be one the most influential figures within cycling on a global stage. She was the vice president of the governing body for cycling (UCI) for 4 years, president of the women’s commission for 9 years and is the current president of the Oceania Cycling Confederation.
Tracey Gaudry- event Patron:
“In recent years the Melbourne to Warrnambool has embraced the opportunity for women to compete within the men’s event, however across the globe the cycling world has signalled that it is time for elite women cyclists to battle it out on their own stage.
“The women’s ‘Warrny’ will provide a platform for Australia’s most talented women cyclists to shine and be a vital launchpad for international competition. The women’s ‘Warrny’ is ideally positioned for future UCI sanctioning as a one-day Classic to attract the world’s best women riders to regional Victoria.” Taylor was Australia’s first medallist at a Road World Championships, back in 1997, and brings an extensive history of racing knowledge to the role. Jones and O’Callaghan form the backbone of many races in Australia, the pair have decades of experience running and officiating top-class events.
Elizabeth Taylor – Race Director:
“I feel honoured to take on the role as Race Director for the first Women’s event. It is going to be great to see the Women show case their talents on this tough and challenging route. I see this as a positive step for Women’s Road cycling in Australia.”
Karin Jones – Event Director
“This has taken a lot of hard work by many people to realise this moment – and our attitude of never giving up on bringing the race to fruition. I’m immensely proud of my team, honoured to be staging and underwriting the event and glad that my passion and determination over the past two years will now see the race officially take place.”
We are thankful for the backing of the Victorian Government through the Significant Sporting Events Program, their support has been instrumental in delivering the race that puts local women onto the world stage, joining the men’s Classic.
Colac Otway Shire will be the start line for the Lochard Energy Women’s Warrnambool Cycling Classic: Ian Seuren, Colac Otway Shire Council’s GM Development and Community Services
“Colac Otway Shire Council is thrilled to welcome the new women’s Colac to Warrnambool race to the region and be part of such an iconic cycling event.”
“We look forward to welcoming athletes and showcasing our Colac Velodrome and the beautiful landscape we have here in Colac Otway Shire, which we hope will offer plenty of inspiration to riders as they race.”
The event is one of only two National Road Series races, the premier domestic competition, staged in Victoria, and crowds are expected to line the roads to see the elite and local riders striving to join the big names like Peter ‘Bulldog’ Besanko and Simon Gerrans who have conquered this event previously.