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The Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic will get a facelift in 2019 when the race returns after a one-year absence.
The “Warrny”, Australia’s oldest one-day race, didn’t run in 2018 due to a calendar re-shuffle for the National Road Series (NRS). In 2019, the race will be held in mid-February — in contrast to its usual October time slot — and it will do so on a new course.
For the first time since its inception in 1895, the Warrny will start at Avalon Airport between Melbourne and Geelong. Over the course of 262km, the riders will head through Geelong, Winchelsea and Colac, before heading out to the Great Ocean Road at Port Campbell.
The race will follow Victoria’s most famous road to Peterborough before winding its way through to the traditional finish on Raglan Parade in Warrnambool. The Camperdown climb, a long-time feature of the race, will not be included in the 103rd edition.
Cycling Victoria president Lisa Byrne hailed the course change as a positive step in the Warrny’s continued development.
“The announcement of the course is another step in the three-year reinvigoration of the event, and follows on from the change of date and the securing of naming rights sponsor in Powercor,” she said. “The Melbourne to Warrnambool is an important and historic event in our national cycling landscape and Cycling Victoria is committed to continuing its growth as a world-class race.”
From 1895 to 1995 the Warrny was run as a handicap event, before switching to a scratch race in 1996. In recent years the race has included an NRS component and several club grades, with all riders starting at the same time.
The past two editions have been won by Nathan Elliott — the only rider to win back-to-back editions. Other notable winners in recent years include Will Walker (2004), Simon Gerrans (2003) and David McKenzie (2001).