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July 27, 2017
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  • Stephen Draper

    Dave; 10 points for putting this to public forum. The Great Ocean Rd is probably victoria’s most recognisable and iconic beautiful winding ribbon to race along. The event could still start at Werribee, race the GOR to Warnambool, crack past 300k, and definitely include your great womens and Fondo inclusions, plus score the important viewership,which would definitely bolster Vic Tourism numbers with the amazing aerial shots of scenery! [Dave, there is a vacancy in Vic tourism!].

    • CC

      Curious, what’s the cross-over here with Cadel’s race?

      • Dave

        Perhaps Macka’s proposed Melbourne (Geelong) to Warrnambool could take the CEGORR date (and UCI classification) early in the year to guarantee an international field. The men’s NRS version and women’s version should be run as separate races to the men’s professional version, and the women’s event could be a joint UCI/NRS event as the Women’s TDU will be in 2016.

        Some other event or prize could then be named in Cadel’s honour – perhaps a cup awarded to the best Australian rider over the January season, taking the cumulative finishing positions (i.e. lowest score wins, like the countback for riders finishing a stage race on equal time) in the National Championship Road Race, the People’s Choice Classic, the TDU stages and the Melb/Geel-Warrnambool.

        The women’s field could have a similar award, perhaps named for Sara Carrigan who won the 2004 Olympic Road Race or Anna Millward who won the World Cup overall twice and the Commonwealth Games.

  • kermitonwheels

    These are terrific and exciting ideas! Seriously, all of them. It’s not long before the race is shut down mid-race because a gap is too big. The race directors had to tell the teams to ride last year and similar this year.
    Note: all the big classics have evolved over the decades. Milan San Remo has changed several times and Lombardia almost every year – there’s plenty of precedent for this.

  • Ash

    I like the concept i think its great. However it would need to be tried in order to see how it goes. Not to say the current format isnt good but change can be good or it can be bad but you will never know unless you try.

    Id go with 3 year plan. 1st year everyone gets there feet wet. 2nd year they’ll have something to compare it to. 3rd year is when it gets serious both years experience comes into play everyone knows the course or atleast bits of it and after the 3rd year is run then it can be surveyed from the riders spectators and local towns how it performed.

  • Grant Edmonds

    When I last did the Warrny in 2000, there were 120 starters and 60 finishers. I thought it was on its last legs then. 250 + entries is big chunk of income for the promoter. Let’s be honest, it is essentially a gran fondo now. It should be NRS with other A + B graders who should qualify to enter. How about starting in Geelong, down Cape Otway Rd, thru Forrest, Turtons Track to Beech Forest, joining the GOR at Lavers Hill, thru Port Campbell, Allansford and enter Wbool on Pt Hopkins Rd.

  • Matt

    My thinking has always been that to really survive long term it needs to start attracting properly professional fields. The only way to really do that I think is to have it around the same time as the Tour Down Under.

    Major races adapt with the times, the Vuelta is now 3 weeks rather than 2 and at a totally different time of year, San Remo has changed it’s major climbs and there are more cobble sections in Paris-Roubaix then there were 50 years ago.

    If there was a big shake up of the race, one of the big things that I think should be considered is to return it to it’s original direction. Start in Warrnambool and finish near/in Melbourne. Getting decent crowds to race finish is surely easier closer to Melbourne.

  • touristeroutier

    Just some food for thought from a non-Aussie, who doesn’t have an opinion per se:

    While the author offers several interesting and well thought out ideas, and should be commended for offering suggestions (rather than complaining), at what point do the revisions create a new event rather than represent an evolution of the original event?

    The article is based upon the premise that the M-W is edging towards extinction, but the only evidence presented is a photo comparing newspaper coverage in the start vs finish cities. What other evidence is there that the event is headed toward death? Why is it not being presented?

    Success is not necessarily defined by the make up of a field; there are plenty of top class European events that have died, despite A list participants. One can argue that a record field of ca 300 entries and having a women’s competition are all evidence of some health. While it might be closer to a Gran Fondo now than an NRS race, is this not closer to what the original editions of the M-W (as well as almost all of the Euro monuments/classics) really were 100+ years ago (even with handicap formats)? Heritage certainly needs to be preserved, but we all need to ask, “which heritage?”.

    The Cape Argus event in South Africa may be the worlds largest Gran Fondo, but with a seeded start system, it is also a viable race, with notable winners. Clearly a 109 km race is going to differ from a 300 km one in many ways, so the comparison isn’t direct. But with the success of Amy’s Gran Fondo, and the popularity of other similar events around the world, one shouldn’t immediately or completely dismiss the format.

  • VerticallyCompliant

    i personally miss having the one two punch of the Herald-Sun tour then Melbourne to Warrnambool this time of year. While it’s great in theory having the tour leading into the Aus champs and Tour down under I think it packs too many of our bigger races into the season start.
    It also means less cycling attention to events like this as reporters are busy finding out where AFL stars are holidaying rather then focusing on cycling either side of their papers race.

    • Dave

      The Herald-Sun race is now AFTER the national championships, TDU and CEGORR.

      Maybe shifting the Melbourne (Geelong) to Warrnambool earlier in the year to the CEGORR date would be a step forward. It would certainly be a better use of Victorian taxpayers’ money than CEGORR is, putting one of their prime tourism drawcards on international TV.

  • JCJordan

    While I may agree with some of your points I don’t think you destroyed most of your argument in the first paragraph when you linked the success of the race to the coverage in what we call ‘newspapers’. The avoidance of giving any real reporting or support actually promotes the success rather than failure. Lets face it the media in Australia is highly anti cycling in its writing. The newspapers are the worst in terms of mis-reporting to the point of deliberate falsification of facts.

  • Dave

    Great stuff Macka – but how about go to Victorian Major Events rather than the Warrnambool Race Committee. It would be a great upgrade for this evolution of the Melbourne-Warrnambool to replace the current Geelong-Geelong loop course of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and get run on the CEGORR race date a week after the TDU.

  • inopinatus

    No, no, no, a thousand times no. The idea of discontinuing the current format fills me with revulsion and the reasoning offered is a mixture of snobbery and sexism.

    It’s evident in the proposed format what Dave thinks of women: that somehow they should undertake a shorter race.
    It’s also evident what Dave thinks of amateurs: they can enter yet another GOR Gran Fondo instead because … well, why, Dave? Because you don’t like B/C/D grades having a go?

    And in pursuit of what? Column inches in The Age? All this tells us is that CA/CV need to up their promotion game. A shortage of coverage is not the fault of the race, the entrants, or the course. It also tells us that Dave McKenzie lives in an old media world, where newspapers are the primary means of reaching people.

    If you want to run another race, go do that, but the M2W is unique. Murdering it in the pursuit of column inches would be criminal vandalism.

    • CLS

      re: women, the maximum distance for a UCI women’s race is 140km (Page 24 of http://www.uci.ch/mm/Document/News/Rulesandregulation/16/11/53/2-ROA-20140701-E_English.pdf). Dave Macca is not saying women cannot race 280km (15 ladies just did!), he is just saying anything over 140km that will NOT be UCI sanctioned (how the UCI came up with 140km is anyone’s guess)
      re: the amateurs, from the sounds of things, there were a number of crashes in this years race. Whether that was caused by B/C/D graders, I don’t know, but I do question how safe having the lower grades racing with the NRS boys is. I heard it was pretty aggressive “at the back” with people willing to take plenty of risks not to lose the group.

      • inopinatus

        1. An appeal to outdated rules is not a good reason to perpetuate sexism. In fact, it’s the worst possible reason.
        2. There’s no correlation between experience and crashing out. The familiar names on the DNF list tells me so. How about we don’t perpetuate the irrational snobbery about non-NRS/A-grade?

        • CLS

          1. Totally agree – ladies have proven many times they can race long distances. I’d like to see Cooksen get rid of this crazy limitation.
          2. Given the field (of around 300?) all took off at the same time I do wonder how safe that is. A group of 300 riders going at race pace is bound to have issues. Hell even the TdF field is smaller then that. Perhaps stagger the starts by 5 mins? Safety should be pretty high on the list of priorities. Having everyone start together doesn’t seem to meet this.

        • Derek Maher

          I agree with your post. Those old rules date back to the old amateur days when very few women raced. Did not have decent equipment to suit their physical needs or raced and trained as pro riders with all the backing and physical knowledge that has filtered down to modern cycling. While exemptions can be made by the UCI regarding distance there is still a long way to go to change attitudes to Female racing and what they are capable of.

      • Dave

        @CLS – the maximum distance for a women’s race can be changed if a derogation from the rules is authorised.

  • Thiery

    This is our most prestigious amateur race, half of the peloton are not there to win, they want the finishers medal. Last time I checked it’s s race not a participation event. If you enter just to finish and get the medal that is the attitude of a gran fondo not a racer. For the women a seperate event is needed and shorter, if they were racing eg attacking,chasing being apart of the action then no problem. But it is needed seperate so they can race themselves. Rather than sit in the pack for as long as possible.

  • anonymous

    Having been involved cycling admin this sum community mindset:
    Keep doing the same thing year after year even if it’s not work=good.

    What you’re proposing is just to scary for some people.

    • Sean

      anonymous? is that you? why aren’t you busy doing cycling admin instead of trolling on the internets. c u on tinder l8tr brah with dave

  • Robert Merkel

    I appreciate Dave putting his views out there, but I don’t think this is going to work.

    Rather than put a truly epic comment on CT, I’ve explained why at length here.

    The TLDR version:

    * The “Gran Fondo” riders have always been there, and back in the handicap days used to win the race regularly. They’re not the problem.
    * The real issue is that Australia’s best riders ride for pro teams and aren’t available for the race, and aren’t going to be in October.
    * We already have a pro one-day classic out of Geelong, the CEGORR, which (and I know this won’t be popular with some) is a far better route for a pro race.
    * If you were going to add another Aussie pro race in the February window, put it in a state that doesn’t already have the CEGORR, the road nats, and the Hun Tour.
    * Therefore, I can’t see anybody putting the money in to take the Warny pro when there are any number of better options out there.

    • Tim

      I read you piece and agree with you Robert. I like your work.
      David seems to be disregarding the fact that there were record numbers in the race with its usual mix of all-comers toeing the start line with the big boys.

    • Ro

      Great response. Whats wrong with clubbies having a race? I think some of these ex-pros and wannabe pros forget who actually puts in the volunteer hours and membership dollars to support cycling. Its not all about the “elite” riders.

    • A great response Robert, well done.

    • Sean

      I tend to agree with you robert, CEGORR is a far better route.

    • velocite

      Very well argued and articulated, Robert – sounded to me, an unparticipant, like a first rate analysis. And thanks to Dave for starting the discussion with a serious proposal.

  • mass1ve

    Having started in 1895 and now being the 2nd oldest race in the World, honouring the Warnie’s history counts for a lot.

    And with that history, 3 things stand out for me;

    1) The route

    2) the distance and

    3) who can enter.

    The route:

    it changes and should have the option of continuing to change – but change it too much and it becomes something different, another race.

    The distance:

    It has to be long. To my mind, 250 with a 20km neutral is too short.

    Who can enter:

    This is what makes the Warnie special, the fact that club riders can enter, along with the pros, and get a taste of one of the longest hardest races in the world. It is an aspiration for so many people, and something many people are proud of having completed. This is firmly part of the Warnie’s history. Who entered in 1895? – farmers, labourers and the like – a race for the common man.

    “It has is been reduced to a gran fondo”

    That gets thrown around a lot these days. What does that actually mean? The standard of rider isn’t what it used to be? It should be a pro-only race? To my mind, calling it a Gran Fond ignores an important part of the Warnie’s history – the fact that for it’s first 100 years (1895 to 1995), it was a handicap race – meaning not only could lower grade riders enter but they could actually win it. It is only relatively recently that it became a mass start graded race (last 20 years). And even more recently a race on the NRS fixture. The NRS doesn’t own the Warnie, they ride within the Warnie. It’s great to have the best riders in Australia race it for the prestige of winning, but it’s not their race. The Warnie existed long before NRS and it is that rich history that the modern day editions should also cater to.

    All the talk about the bunch getting pulled?

    Does the main bunch cruising down the highway at 25km/h in the perfect weather make it a Gran Fondo? Is that due to the calibre of rider? Does that mean the Warnie is “slowly dieing”? The answer is quite obvious to my mind – this will happen every time there is a good weather Warnie -regardless of the make-up of the main bunch. The NRS riders sit up once the break is established. Team tactics play out. Of the rest, who in their right mind will tow the main bunch to Warrnambool on a good weather day? No one. If there is a crosswind and the race can be thrown in the gutter to force splits in the field, then it is game on (crosswinds: main field will travel at ~40kmh. Sunshine and zero or slight breeze 25kmh) No amount of talk at a rider briefing will overcome this. It is Racing 101. Besides, pulling 100 riders would be a complete circus and they know it.

    Finally, does the history matter? Should we just move forward with the times? I believe changing it too much makes it something else, a new race. To my mind, we should focus on what makes the Warnie special and be careful to carry that forward. Otherwise it risks not being the Warnie.

  • Tim

    Your description of the race requiring only rolling road closures for the elite race isn’t correct. The entire road from Geelong to Warrnambool would need to be closed for the punters starting 2-3 hours earlier. If the punter starts at 7am with closed roads for a 250km GF (wow) and the elites start at 9:30, then the winner wont arrive until about 5pm into Warrnambool. That’s for the elites- what about the trailing punters? They wont be in before dark. So you are suggesting longer road closures? Big sag wagon?
    What happens when the lead elites run into the back of the trailing punters? Ugly. What happens when the punters hop into the elite peloton? Ugly. How do the team and rider support people get ahead of the race on the GOR? Not easily through the hinterland.
    Lastly, how do we get all our bikes and gear back from Warrnambool to Geelong at the end of the day? Stay over in the Bool? Sure, but i’d like to get changed too. Too many issues not considered or costed.
    Your plan seems enthusiastic but ill conceived. You’re trying to change one event totally to make a new event that seeks to be all things to all people.
    The Warrnie was a ripper this year with great numbers and great stories from the whole peloton- including the women’s separate event.
    The Melbourne to Warrnambool has survived for a long time, if it needs total overhaul then come up with sensible suggestions and good reasons for changing it. But have some respect for the race itself and the custodians who spend a lot of time and effort in making sure it has a future.
    There are lots of Fondos and 3 Peaks rides etc to chose from- the Warrnie is a race and a challenge and an honour to prepare for and complete in the time limit.

    • Dave

      “Your description of the race requiring only rolling road closures for the elite race isn’t correct. The entire road from Geelong to Warrnambool would need to be closed for the punters starting 2-3 hours earlier.”

      Why? The TDU’s public event (with a 6am start) doesn’t need full road closures beyond the first 5-10km, just 40 km/h limits to allow the locals to go about their business while discouraging through traffic.

      “What happens when the lead elites run into the back of the trailing punters? Ugly.”

      The punters wait on the side of the road and eat humble pie until the race’s green light car trundles past. Same as they do at the TDU.

    • Sean

      Idiot. You’d only close the road for the actual race with actual pro’s. The hacks would ride under normal conditions like most other similar events. If you have a vested interest, please declare it.

  • ceedee

    Does the Melbourne to Warrnambool have strategic plan for future? If not, why not? I get the impression that it has hooked its wagon very heavily to the NRS for future success.

    • Dave

      Hooking their wagon to the NRS would strongly suggest the lack of a strategic plan, given that the NRS (and CA as a whole) is on life support (federal taxpayer life support to be specific) at the moment.

      • ceedee

        If that’s case, than that’s is a worry. Just floating along is all fraught with danger. Who ever is running it should vision for the future.

  • Ryan Hylton-Cummins

    If people made this race into a UCI one then people will be calling for Grafton – Inverell to also be added

  • IJ

    Dave Macca were you there on the weekend?

  • JJ

    Thanks for this piece Dave, us cycling fans should count themselves lucky to have you put this out there. Not many (enough?) ex-pro’s seem to care that much to put so much effort as this.

  • Sean

    Most of you have overlooked the issue of licensing, registration,Vehicle Licensing Fee, Kraftfahrzeugsteuer, performance tax, weight tax, customs duty, central excise, motor tax and road taxes. You surely can’t a run a bike race in Victoria without paying these.


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