Australia’s Melbourne to Warrnambool has been rescheduled to May 1, after the 267-kilometre race was postponed less than 24 hours before it was due to start following the Victorian government’s announcement on Friday that there would be a sudden five day ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown due to a COVID-19 cluster.
The original event, scheduled for February 13, was expected to have a strong field packed with National Road Series (NrS) riders, members of the Australian track team – such as Luke Plapp, Kelland O’Brien and Annette Edmondson – who were finishing off an endurance building road training block and a sprinkling of WorldTour professionals including Australian Champion Cameron Meyer (Team BikeExchange) and Grace Brown (Team BikeExchange).
“What had planned to be a great Warrny last weekend, will now be a great Warrny on the 1st of May,” said Shane Wilson, chair of the Warrnambool Citizen’s Road Race Committee. “The cycling community and our partners have provided us with great support to reschedule so quickly. Our team is raring to go.”
The race, known as the 'Warrny', was first held in 1895 and holds a special place in Australian cycling, with its long history and route to match. It was due to be the second race on the Australian National Road Series calendar in 2021, following the season starter of the Santos Festival of Cycling, and contained a start list full of riders rolling through with strong form from the recent Australian Road Championships.
However, the event was postponed after the state Premier, Daniel Andrews, announced a five-day lockdown starting on Saturday – the planned race-day – to try and quickly stem the growth of a COVID-19 cluster which emerged from hotel quarantine. The lockdown meant Victorians could only leave their homes for essential supplies, medical needs, essential work and two hours of exercise.
The next race on the NRS calendar is now the Tour de Brisbane on April 11 with the men’s NRS and women’s support race at the Melbourne to Warrnambool slotting in nearly three weeks later on May 1. The 267 kilometre Victorian race is now also the week before the second longest race on the calendar, the 228-kilometre Grafton to Inverell, which includes an NRS women’s race for the first time.
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