The Melbourne to Warrnambool is Australia's oldest classic, and at 300 kilometres in length also one of the toughest. This October 27 will see the 112th running of the world's longest bike race, which is some six kilometres longer than the famous Italian Classic, Milano-Sanremo.
This year's event will see the cream of the Australian domestic scene as well as some of the worlds best professionals take to the start in Sanctuary Lakes. They will race through 30 towns in the Victorian countryside on their way to the finish on the Raglan Parade in Warrnambool, chasing the $17,000 in prize money.
Last year's event saw the Drapac Porsche team enter the finale with two riders in the break, Stuart Shaw and the 1992 Barcelona Olympian Rob McLachlan. These two took it in turns to attack their companions, including Kjell Carlström (Liquigas), until 35 year-old McLachlan was able to break free, soloing to victory ahead of David Pell.
In the past 'the Warny' has seen some of Australia's best showcase their talents before moving onto bigger things. In 2004 during his first season in the under 23 ranks, William Walker won the event, before going the Rabobank development team the following year. The 2003 edition was won by another ex-under 23 Australian champion, Simon Gerrans. He was then riding for the Norwegian team Ringerike, and soon went on to race a season for the French Amateur team Nantes, where he was able to secure a contract the following year with Ag2r Prévoyance.
The race became a reality after a bet, which involved 25 riders cycling the then horrible road known as the Princess Highway. Originally run as a handicap event, the race would typically come down to the wire as the scratch bunch tried its hardest to reel-in all those in front of them. Dean Woods holds the record for the fastest time in the event, when in 1990 he covered the then 275-kilometre course in 5:12'26".
This year the event again holds a UCI 1.2-classification, ensuring that the great race will uphold its tradition with the Australian cycling community as well as adding to the increasing popularity for many international competitors.
World's most scenic bicycle challenge
The inaugural running of the Great Ocean Road Ride will take place one day after the 112th Melbourne to Warrnambool classic. The event will comprise of three separate challenges for participants, all taking place along the Great Ocean Road: the 71-kilometre Malvern Star challenge from Warrnambool to Port Campbell, the Apostles Ride, which takes riders over 120 kilometres, from Warrnambool to Lavers Hill, and the Ride Of Your Life, 168 kilometres, from Warrnambool to Apollo Bay.
The events kicks off at 9:00 on Sunday, October 28, and costs are $55 for adults and $25 for kids under 16, with part of each entry being donated to the Amy Gillett Foundation. Entries must be received by October 15. There will be a variety of prizes up for grabs, including a one week's mobile home hire, four Malvern star bikes and Rosebank helmet. For more information on the event, see the official website.