Melbourne to Warrnambool race postponed after COVID-19 outbreak

Riders in action at the 2019 Melbourne to Warrnambool
Riders in action at the 2019 Melbourne to Warrnambool (Image credit: Con Chronis )

The Melbourne to Warrnambool race in Australia has been postponed just 24 hours before it was due to start after the Victorian Government announced a five-day 'circuit breaker' lockdown due to a cluster of COVID-19 cases discovered in a quarantine hotel.

The 'Warrny' was first held in 1895 and is legendary for its long route of over 250km, stunning roads, and prestige. It is part of the NRS series of races in Australia. 

This year’s race should have been the 105th edition but organisers are now hoping to hold the event later in 2021.

"So much has gone into the preparation and I’m just devastated for everyone involved," said Event director Karin Jones, announcing the news of the sudden postponement. 

"I’m sorry for the staff, sponsors, organisers and most of all the riders that have come from all over Australia for what we had hoped would have been one of the best-ever events.

"My family and I put a lot into this race and growing it for everyone to enjoy and that won’t stop because of this setback. We’re going to come back with a bang, bigger and stronger later in 2021."

The Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews announced a sudden five-day lockdown on Friday after a cluster of COVID-19 cases at a quarantine hotel, with Melbourne airport declared an exposure site.

Victorians can only leave their homes for essential supplies, medical needs, essential work, and two hours of exercise. Shopping and exercise is limited to five kilometres from the home. Face masks must be worn indoors and outdoors when not at home and no visitors at homes are permitted. 

Jones runs the race together with the owners of the Melbourne to Warrnambool, the Warrnambool Citizens Road Race Committee, who had been gearing up for a bumper edition of the legendary race. They are keen for the event to return later in the year.

"We believe the most prudent step is to provide time and space for the Warrny 2021 to run," said committee chair Shane Wilson. 

"We are very hopeful that a delay to late in the year will allow our great event to run in a COVID-free environment."

A new race date will be confirmed as soon as possible to provide clarity for everyone involved in the event. Entries received for the Melbourne to Warrnambool will be carried over to that new race date or can be refunded by Cycling Australia on request.

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