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The 105th edition of the Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic has been postponed less than 24 hours before it was set to run.
Event organisers were forced to call off Saturday’s race when the Victorian Government announced a five-day hard lockdown that will start at midnight on Friday – an attempt to combat a recent surge in local coronavirus cases.
“So much has gone into the preparation and I’m just devastated for everyone involved,” said event director Karin Jones. “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.”
This year’s ‘Warrny’ was due to feature a particularly strong field. A composite team backed by the race’s title sponsor Powercor was set to include recently re-crowned Aussie road champion Cameron Meyer (BikeExchange), bronze medalist in the same race Scott Bowden, plus fellow elite riders Nathan Earle (Ukyo), Leigh Howard, Brenton Jones and Sam Welsford. Fellow pros Marcus Culey (Ukyo) and Jesse Ewart (Sapura) were also set to race.
The National Road Series (NRS) event was also due to include some of Australia’s best domestic riders, including star performers from the recent Australian Road Nationals, Luke Plapp and Kell O’Brien (both Inform TMX Make).
Among those lining up for the women’s support race were Nationals road race silver medalist Grace Brown (BikeExchange), newly crowned criterium champ Nettie Edmondson, and Carlee Taylor (Roxsolt Liv SRAM).
The Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic is Australia’s oldest bike race and one of the oldest in the world. Race organisers are hopeful of running the 267 km event later in the year with a new date to be confirmed soon.
Riders who had entered Saturday’s event will have their entry carried over to the new date, or can apply to AusCycling for a refund.