Melbourne to Warrnambool Classic
CARIBOU PUBLICATIONS MEDIA RELEASE
The iconic Melbourne to Warrnambool Classic – the world's second oldest bike race – will undergo major evolutionary change this year, with an overhaul of its current course and the introduction of a support event to create a two-day cycle racing extravaganza.
It is planned to start the event, first held in 1895, at Werribee, 40kms south-west of Melbourne.
The proposed change follows a meeting in Melbourne yesterday with classic director, John Craven, and senior representatives from the Victoria Police, Vic Roads and Cycling Australia's technical panel.
The meeting addressed Police concerns about the relative safety of rolling road closures, the system under which the Melbourne to Warrnambool Classic and other events like the Herald Sun Tour operate.
The course alteration will chop about 35kms from the current route. The "Warrnambool" will no longer be the world's longest one-day bike race – a distinction it has held for the past five years.
Craven, the classic's director for 14 years, said the changes were inevitable.
He said police had expressed significant safety concerns about four sections of the current 300km course – the built-up segment from the Sanctuary Lakes starting point to Point Cook, the busy main streets of Werribee and Lara, and the narrow route through the Stony Rises on the Princes Highway.
Craven said the new proposed course, which is subject to Police, VicRoads and municipal council approval, would measure about 265kms.
He said these were substantial positives in the changed route, aside from safety issues.
The new course is likely to start at Werribee Racecourse, travel to Little River before swinging north to the You Yangs, avoiding Lara's bustling Saturday morning traffic.
It will pick up the current route near Elcho Park and eventually proceed down the Hamilton Highway through Inverleigh and Cressy, before continuing on to Lismore where the race will go in a southerly direction to Chocolyn and Camperdown.
Craven said the classic would then take on an innovative and exciting challenge – passing through Camperdown on the Bullen-Merri Road – displaying all the visual splendor of the Lakes and Craters tourism region.
The final 62 kilometres of the course will be raced on the Princes Highway, concluding at the traditional Raglan Parade finish line.
Craven said these were precedents for introducing necessary safety components into some of the world's most famous bike races.
The legendary Paris-Roubaix classic, won by Australia's Stuart O'Grady in 2007, now starts at Compiegne, about 60kms north of Paris.
The Paris-Brussels Classic also starts 85kms out of Paris in Soissons, to avoid traffic conflicts.
Craven said the course upgrade was part of a grand concept to implement a cycle racing extravaganza into the Warrnambool and Corangamite regions over the weekend of October 24-25.
He said a new bike race would be held on Sunday, October 25 – the 115km Shipwreck Coast Classic.
This event would be open to all professionals and club-registered cyclists, and also to masters' riders.
The race has been sanctioned by the Australian Cycling Federation and will be listed on the national road series calendar.
It is likely to start in Warrnambool and proceed through Allansford, Nullawarre, Bay of Islands, Peterborough, Port Campbell, Curdievale, Nullawarre, before finishing at Allansford.
Warrnambool Citizens' Road Race Committee president Brendan Gleeson said the changes and innovations were monumental, but were essential for the long-term future of the classic and the promotion of the Warrnambool-Corangamite region as a vibrant tourism destination.
"We now have a top-level two-day cycling feast," he said.
"To me, the best feature of the changes to the 'Warrnambool' course is that the race will now take in the spectacular countryside through the lakes and craters area at the back of Camperdown.
"The riders will wonder what hit them, but the race is now a genuine European-style classic, with a huge challenge at the 200km mark.
"The police have made a point and we are hearing it – we are protecting the classic and creating a viable future."
John Craven (director): 03 5224 2466, 0408 558 469
Brendan Gleeson (president): 0417 566 282
2009 Classic Event & Entry Details
you owe me the chop to eat with sauce, yummy....