Genesys Wealth Advisers’ Joel Pearson is aiming for a unique piece of Australian cycling history by becoming the first back-to-back winner at this weekend’s Melbourne to Warrnambool. While Pearson admitted good fortune helped him secure last year’s title, this time around the rider has been training specifically for the world’s second oldest race.
Pearson has been training in New South Wales’ Snowy Mountains since winning the Tour of Murray River last month. The 27-year-old has been using his father’s farm at Jindabyne as a base for his training routine.
“I’ve been training up to 700 kilometres a week in the mountains and hopefully I’ll go into the Warrnambool with fresh legs as I haven’t raced since the Murray tour,” Pearson said. “The rides up to Thredbo have been good and the nice weather has made it a bit easier to train properly.”
While nobody has won the race on consecutive occasions, seven riders have won the classic twice: Stan Bonney in 1949 and 1957, Wally O’Brien in 1958 and 1962, Mario Giramondo in 1970 and 1975, Bruce Clark in 1971 and 1973, David Allen in 1979 and 1982, Peter Besanko in 1984 and 1987 and Jamie Drew in 1999 and 2002.
“I got a bit lucky last year because I did not have great form going into the race, but I had a hard-fought battle in the Murray tour and if I’ve looked after myself I’ll be there at the finish on Saturday,” Pearson said.
Pearson will have the support of six Genesys Wealth Advisors teammates including Ben Grenda, Tom Robinson, Dylan Newell and Steele Von Hoff.
Some 207 riders will start the 262 kilometre event, which was founded in 1895. The field will race for $17,000 in prize money, with $2,000 going to the winner.
Since becoming a mass-start race in 1996 just three foreign riders have won Australia’s longest race - Switzerland’s Daniel Schnider in 1997, Belgium’s Bart Heirewegh in 1998 and Sweden’s Jonas Ljungblad in 2005. A fourth could be added to the list this year with riders from New Zealand, Canada and Singapore entered in the event.