The Warrny and Women’s Warrny – what it means to me

The Melbourne to Warrnambool, the ‘Warrny’. It is part of the fabric of Victorian and Australian road cycling. It is an institution being more than a century old, with its origins in regional Victoria, and for many years it was staged in a traditional format of road racing as a handicap. It has been the launchpad for many an aspiring Aussie cyclist, or a demonstration of the calibre of seasoned riders.

The Warrny was instrumental in my development as an amateur and then professional cyclist. The 1994 Warrny was where I cut my teeth in my first race longer than 200km. Competing in the Warrny in the ’90s was epic. It was a handicap event, it started in Melbourne with the Westgate Bridge being the first ‘climb’. There was no division for women, let alone a standalone women’s race. As the only female rider in 1994, my group was caught by ‘scratch’ before the half-way mark, and the burgeoning peloton splintered I maintained my position rotating in a large bunch to become the first woman to finish within the ‘time cut’, 35 minutes behind the winner. Competing and finishing the Warrny that was an extraordinary experience. It was an early highpoint of my career and one that to this day I am proud of. My gratitude goes to my then coach Donna Rae Szalinski, everyone at the then Geelong West Cycling Club and Ken and Paul Evans who were my first bike sponsors.

Tracey Gaudry at the 2021 launch of the Lochard Energy Women’s Warrnambool Cycling Classic

Decades later – as the vice president of the governing body for cycling (UCI) for four years and inaugural president of the women’s commission for nine years – I’ve had the privilege and opportunity to apply my knowledge, experience and passion to influence the growth of women’s cycling in Victoria, across Australia and globally, including to ensure that women have the pathway and opportunity to compete at the highest level in the most spectacular races on their own stage.

For many years the Warrny 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. For the second year running, the standalone 160km women’s Warrny provides a stage 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.

Tracey Gaudry
Patron of the Women’s Warrny
Dual Olympic Road Cyclist & former professional Road Cyclist
Oceania Cycling Confederation Executive Board Member
Former UCI Vice President 2013-2017
Inaugural UCI Women’s Commission President 2013-2021


Click through to find out more about each of the events in this year’s Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Festival

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