Melbourne to Warrnambool Classic

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Melbourne to Warrnambool
Riders in the 2007 race, near Werribee on the outskirts of Melbourne

Riders in the 2007 race, near Werribee on the outskirts of Melbourne

Established 1895
Held October
Country Australia
Region South West Victoria
Type One day classic
Editions 90
First Winner A. Calder, AUS
Most Recent Rhys Pollock, AUS
Most Wins P.Besanko, 3 times
Record Time 5 hours and 12 minutes
by Dean Woods in 1990 (267 km)

The Melbourne to Warrnambool Classic cycling race is a one-day road bicycle race . The race started in 1895 and is Australia's oldest one day race and the world's second oldest one day race, after the Liège–Bastogne–Liège Classic. Historically, the route started in central Melbourne and followed the Princes Highway to Warrnambool on Victoria's western coast. This traditional route was the longest race on the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) calendar, the exact distance varying slightly over time.

The race was a handicap event from 1895 to 1995, with riders leaving Melbourne at different intervals. From 1996 the race has been conducted as a Scratch Race with a mass start with up to 250 entrants, categorized into A, B, C, and D grades over a distance of 267 km. In 2004 it was changed to 299.1 km. In the towns on route there are now sprint points to be earned for a sprint champion competition. With six climbs during the day, a King of the Mountains championship is also at stake.

While the race usually attracts Australia's best locally based road cyclists (the increasing number of Australians racing for European-based professional teams have rarely entered in recent years), the race is also open to amateur club cyclists who race for the prizes in the secondary grades, or just to finish before the designated cutoff time.

In 2009 the race start was shifted to Werribee, on Melbourne's outer south-western outskirts, and the race distance shortened to 258 km. Several additional hills were added to the route near Camperdown. The primary difficulty of the race remains its length and the strong crosswinds which affect the course.


In 1895 Don Charlston conceived the first race after riding from Warrnambool to Melbourne in a personal time trial. The first race was held on 5 October 1895 and won by A. Calder in 11 hours 44 minutes, with a 2 hours handicap start for the 165-mile trip. He suffered a puncture near Geelong which lost him 20 minutes, but crossed the line with a lead of 31 minutes. The fastest time during this first race was recorded by Jim Carpenter from scratch who took 10 hours 52 minutes and finished in 4th place. Of the 50 riders that entered, 24 started and only 7 finished the race. A second race occurred ten weeks later over the same distance.

Olympic medal winning cyclist, Dean Woods, set the race record time of 5 hours and 12 minutes in 1990 over the shorter distance than the race is presently (267 km in 1990).

In 1995 a monument commemorating the race winners was unveiled near the finish line on Raglan Parade, Warrnambool by two times Blue Riband Winner, Sir Hubert Opperman. An honour board was added in 2001 in acknowledgement of the many volunteers involved in the race.

Winners by year[edit]

Rider Team
2005 Sweden Ljungblad, JonasJonas Ljungblad (SWE) Amore e Vita
2006 Australia McLachlan, RobertRobert McLachlan (AUS) Drapac Porsche
2007 Australia Decker, TimTim Decker (AUS) Decked Out Coaching
2008 Australia Dempster, ZakZak Dempster (AUS) VIS / Jayco - Toyota United
2009 Australia Pearson, JoelJoel Pearson (AUS) Savings And Loans
2010 Australia Pollock, RhysRhys Pollock (AUS) Drapac Professional Cycling
2011 Australia Pearson, JoelJoel Pearson (AUS) Genesys Wealth Advisers
2012 Netherlands Goesinnen, FlorisFloris Goesinnen (NED) Drapac Professional Cycling
2013 Australia Horgan, SamSam Horgan (AUS) Team Budget Forklifts
2014 Australia Kent-Spark, OliverOliver Kent-Spark (AUS) Search2Retain