Rider Profiles for the 2015 'Warrny'

September 04, 2015
Rider Profiles for the 2015 'Warrny'

The 100th edition of the Melbourne to Warrnambool is just around the corner. To celebrate the anniversary edition, BikeExchange are following a rider from each grade to get a real life insight into Australia's most famous race. We also chat to last years winner Oliver Kent-Spark who tells us what it takes to win this famous race.


Oliver Kent-Spark - Men's A grade

M2W   Di Howden Ollie sprint

Thanks Di Howden for the winning image from 2014.

I am 22 years old and have been riding since 2007, racing since 2008. My local club is the Geelong Cycling Club and I race for Search2retain-Health.com.au. I work part time at a supermarket and am currently studying Business Management part time at Deakin university. I am returning for 2015 as the defending champion, having taken out the 2014 Melbourne to Warrnambool title.

Why have you signed up?

I started cycling due to an injury from football, it quickly turned into something that I loved as well as a way to hang out with my dad, who has ridden as a weekend warrior for quite some time. I began racing in 2008 thanks to my best mate, who would always be off training or racing, and so this is the main way we got to catch up. When I first heard of the Melbourne to Warrnambool, I truly believed it was a race that I would happily never start – the distance, the roads, the weather, the type of rider who won this race – all assured me that I would be more than comfortable avoiding it. My first experience of the race was in 2013, playing a support role for my then team mates, Cameron Bayly and Neil Van Der Ploeg. I got over excited and only made it to Camperdown with the bunch, eventually pulling out 215km in.

Is there any added pressure defending your win from last year?

I think there is a little bit more expectation on me to race well come October 17th, but in terms of pressure the only person that is coming from is myself. Last year I was very much an unknown quantity, and surprised a lot of people including myself at the finish. So this year I feel as though I have an obligation to do myself, my team and the race proud.

Weekly mileage

At this stage I am doing roughly 700km a week, so nothing too extreme at the moment. My coach Kim Howard and I have planned to build up consistently each week. About 10 days out from the race, I will really focus on tuning up by doing some speed work and making sure I am fresh enough to race.

Most epic sessions / training day in the lead up?

As the weather is temperamental at best this time of year, we tend to plan week by week. I find the toughest days are the ones that entail a race in the middle of training; they end up being about 7hr days and anywhere between 200km and 250km depending on whether or not I use the motorbike as well.

What is your goal for the race?

It would be something quite special to win this race again, especially the 100th edition – ultimately that is the goal. But before that can be achieved, I’ve set my sights on arriving to the start line in the best possible shape, and knowing that I have done everything within my power to be ready for the race.

Biggest challenge for you to overcome in the lead up?

I think the biggest challenges I faced last year in my build up was the constant state of fatigue. I also trained specifically for the race, so after Tour of Gippsland I didn’t race any NRS. I found this a to be a challenge, because stepping away from racing is always tough, especially when your team mates are so successful: it motivates you, but it also makes you feel as though you are not contributing to the team.

See also: A history lesson of the great race - The Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic


Nicole Whitburn - Women's A grade

Nicole Sprint M2W

Thanks Con Chronis for the awesome shot.

I am 35 years old, riding my second Melbourne to Warrnambool after finishing my first attempt in 2008. Giant / Liv rider currently racing in the National Road Series and leading the Victorian Road Series.

Why have you signed up?

I always wanted to do it again, I first did it back in 2008 and it has been on mind every year since then, but something always got in the way. So I thought this year I would commit early and lock it in; especially given it is the 100th edition. I also took a lot of learnings from that race and from racing so much since. How to race efficiently: use the bunches better and being aware of pivot moments in races will hopefully help me this time around.

Weekly mileage

Not as much as others - 300-400km's a week. My aim is to hit the 400km more often then not in the lead up. My week is broken up with a mix of harder sessions including motor pacing. I'll include a bit of intensity in there and do some races with the men to get bunch riding practice and a good, fast race. I also log a lot of km's by myself which helps with the mental preparation.

Most epic sessions / training day in the lead up?

I've just come back from five weeks in France leading a riding tour, so some of the days on the bike there were very long and went over some big mountains. Leading into 2008 the longest ride I did was 160km's and during the race I got to about the 250km mark before I fell apart.

What is your goal for the race?

Finishing. But beyond that, it would be great to be the first female. It's so hard to tell given the distance and possible weather conditions. It's impossible to predict.

Biggest challenge for you to overcome in the lead up?

No challenges as yet, but I haven't properly started my preparations. The biggest thing will be to not get sick and work through some specific blocks of 3 weeks on 1 week off.

See also: Find out why you should join a club and start racing your bike?


Alistair Tubb - Men's B grade

Al Tubb M2W

Thanks Di Howden for the great action shot

I am 29 years old and have been focused on riding for two years and prior to that long course triathlon for two years. I race with with Footscray Cycling Club and ride with local Melbourne group Bakpocket

Why have you signed up?

For a new challenge. Have raced a lot of different events since starting from the punchy high intensity crit racing to longer road racing events to the tune of around 90kms distance. The M2W is a whole other level of racing where surviving distance is key. I have recently trained and competed in the Oppy 24hr race and figured with that base in the legs, it gives me a good starting base for this.

Weekly mileage

On average not a huge amount at the moment, probably in the area of 200-250. Reality is that it needs to more than double in the lead up which includes a 200+ km ride per week and also a 100+ mid week if I can.

Most epic sessions / training day in the lead up?

I was part of the Oppy 24hour ride earlier this year and the boys are planning to go around again next year, part of that is to do a day/night ride per month for training. A few weeks back we knocked over a 400+ km ride...not sure if that counts as 'epic' enough?

What is your goal for the race?

To finish at the front end of the race. I would be wrapped with a top 10 result.

Biggest challenge for you to overcome in the lead up?

Maintaining high mileage with all other work/life commitments without doubt. I am kidding myself if I think this race is on a small scale. Something of this distance and intensity...and then add in potential weather threats...it cannot be underestimated. It's going to be hard, brutally hard! So for me it will be just planning life as best I can to maintain the kms I need to bank.

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


Purdie Long - Women's B grade

PMC finish

Photo credit: Con Chronis

I am 33 years of age, friend of Rapha and have been cycling as main sport for approximately two years. Prior to this I rode purely as a cross training / recovery activity while training for long distance running events. Ran my last marathon in 2013 and decided to try cycling full time.

Why have you signed up?

Endurance events have always interested me. I enjoy the challenge these events provide, both physically and mentally. The Warrny has such a rich history, and was actually on my radar before Cycling Victoria announced there was going to be a women’s race in 2015. I had already made steps towards entering this year, so the process was made much easier and accessible when CV made this announcement.

Weekly mileage

Currently averaging approximately 400km weekly, with a large week being 500kms. The plan over the remaining 6 weeks is to continue building on the endurance base, with increased speed and intensity.

Most epic sessions / training day in the lead up?

Over the last couple of months I have been doing 4 hr / 150 km motorpacing sessions every few weeks. These sessions will be increasing to weekly leading up until the start of October when tapering will commence. Backing up a hard motorpacing session after a 5-6 hour endurance / hills session always creates some nice lactic burn.

What is your goal for the race?

My goal for the race is to obviously finish within the cut off time, but also to be competitive within the women’s race. I am realistic about the enormity of this event and what it will involve to even finish, so I am focusing on my training at the moment and getting myself in the best condition I can to give it a decent go.

Biggest challenge for you to overcome in the lead up?

Biggest challenge for me is training around a full time career which is often demanding of my time. I can have long hours at work, which makes fitting in training around this difficult. It is hard some weeks to fit in 20 hours of training around what can be anywhere up to 60 hours at work. I have taken a large block of time off work in September to allow me to train and recover without interruption.

See also: Foam roller 101 to improve your performance and prevent injury


Adam Kavanagh - Men's C grade

AK M2W

Thanks Di Howden for the great action shot

31 years old, 32 by the time the M2W comes around. I've been focused on riding for a couple of years, triathlon before that and running before that. I'm not a jet by any stretch, but I just love riding my bike and really enjoy racing whether I'm first or last. I've been racing with the Footscray Cycling Club for the past couple of years and really enjoying it.

Why have you signed up?

Before I even knew what cycling was I knew about the Melbourne to Warrnambool. My dad used to ride on the track in his younger years and would go on and on about the Warrny and this bloke called Russell Mockridge who would destroy the field from scratch and bury anyone who dared challenge him. So I've always looked at the M2W with rose coloured glasses and couldn't think of anything better than being a part of the 100th edition.

Weekly mileage

Through winter it was between 250km and 350km most weeks. During the week I can manage about 120k and then it just depends on what is happening on the weekend as to what the end figure is. The goal for August onwards is to ride 375km a week.

Most epic sessions / training day in the lead up?

It wasn't a single session, but racing the 3 Day Tour for Footscray Cycling Club on the Queen's Birthday weekend was solid. Three tough races over three days plus a few extra km's thrown in. A few of the guys that plan on riding the Oppy 24hour race next year and planning 300km+ long ride from St.Kilda to Warrnambool soon, so I'll jump on that and try to hold on.

What is your goal for the race?

To finish with the bunch.

Biggest challenge for you to overcome in the lead up?

Pretty much the same challenges that everyone faces I think. Work, family, training...trying to find a balance between them all. I'd love to ride 500km+ a week but it's not realistic for me.

See also: If you are interested in doing this event next year, here's how to build you base


Lynden Blackley - Men's D grade

20150418 140937 resized  1

35 years old, I started riding in about 2010. 2015 is my first year of Road Racing, I have raced a few enduro Mountain Bike Races in the past. This year I have been using riding to raise money for my charity called Ride for Gus, in memory of my nephew. All money raised goes to the Royal Children's Hospital. I am a member of the Melbourne Cycling League.

Why have you signed up for M2W?

I have had an interest in the Warny for several years but had always put it as a 'I'll do it one day" thing. I like to test myself with hard crazy events: my first mountain bike race was the Leadville Trail 100, in Colorado. 100 miles above 10,000 feet of altitude. When I started Ride for Gus, I thought what better way to test myself and to raise money. It doesn't really get much harder than the Warny.

Weekly mileage

At the moment I am averaging about 400km a week on the road plus a few ergo sessions a week. I think the plan will be to be pushing out about 600km over the coming weeks. I'm sure my coach has some big solid weeks planned for me.

Most epic sessions / training day in the lead up:

I haven't really had any epic training sessions except for a few 150km rides in howling wind and cold. I raced the Melbourne to Ballarat basically to use it as a training ride. It was a fast race which I learnt a lot from. I think in the lead up to M2W my hardest session will be pre-riding the course.

What is my goal for the race?

My main goals for the race are to firstly, finish the race, and secondly, to hopefully raise as much money as possible for the RCH. I'd love to be able to say a finishing time but know that the Warny is so unpredictable and the weather plays a massive part in it.

Biggest challenge to overcome in the lead up?

The biggest challenge for me has been juggling family, full time work and training. Spending time with my wife and three year old son has been a bit difficult at times.

See also: Having issues with cramping? Stomach problems during events? We have the answer


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