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The Historic 'Warrny'

August 19, 2015
The Historic 'Warrny'

The Melbourne to Warrnambool is the world's second oldest bike race and this year celebrates its 100th anniversary.

The race is legendary in Australia and around the world, even getting listed on the UCI calendar in 2007. The race covers almost 300 kilometres, once-upon-a-time making it the longest one-day bike race in the world. The history surrounding the event is like no other, so on the eve of the 100th edition we have taken a look back to discover more about this legendary event.

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See also: Why you should join a club and race your bike

The first race was held in 1895, and only seven riders finished. Andrew Calder won the inaugural event in 11 hours, 44 minutes and 30 seconds on a diet of "eggs, milk and beef extract". Over the years things have changed a fair bit, the course record now stands at a staggering 5 hours, 12 minutes and 26 seconds, held by Olympic gold medalist Dean Woods.

See also: Check out our rider profiles from each grade of the 100th edition of the Melbourne to Warrnambool

The race was a handicap event up until 1995, before it turned into a scratch race with categorised groups of riders. This is in part due to the extensive traffic management issues that arise when you try to run a handicap event over 270 kilometres. The race has been run in reverse direction 32 times, and has even started in the Bourke St Mall.

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Some legends of cycling have competed at the event, the late great Sir Hubert Opperman, double gold medallist at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games Russell Mockridge, Olympian Michael Lynch and the English Queen of endurance cycling, 7-time world champion Beryl Burton.

See also: Meet the man that has ridden 34 Melbourne to Warrnambools

The 2015 edition will see riders cover 273km starting from Werribee and finishing up in Raglan Parade in Warrnambool. The event has never been more popular, this year's race selling out in less than six minutes. The race is part of the Australian National Road Series and was taken out last year by Oliver Kent Spark, a Geelong local in a time of 7 hours and 21 seconds. The race features sprint and KOM points along the route to keep the riders interested along the arduous course.

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The 'Warrny' is an event that most riders set out to tick off their bucket list, with finishing being just as much of a victory as winning the actual race. Keep an eye out for our special coverage of the 100th edition, where BikeExchange will profile a rider from each grade to hear their stories and get a real life perspective of why this historic race means so much to so many.

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