A late call out to entrants in the 101st Melbourne to Warrnambool has resulted in a strong field for the second official women’s category in the iconic race.
– Photos: Con Cronis
Setting off for a long ride…
Headlining the start list are current individual pursuit world champion, Rebecca Wiasak and former 24 hour MTB world champion, Jessica Douglas.
For Douglas, the race is an opportunity to realise a 27 year dream. “I have always wanted to do the Melbourne to Warrnambool,” says Douglas. “It’s been on my radar since I was 16 and riding the Great Victorian Bike Ride. As soon as I saw that the race needed more female entries, I got butterflies in my stomach and then I knew I just had to enter. So I did.”
Douglas’ endurance background gives her confidence in covering the distance, but her focus will be on the finish line.
“My goal is to finish and enjoy working in a good bunch all day long,” said Douglas.
The timing of the race coincides with summer season preparations for Wiasak, but her expectations for the race are modest.
”I am only a couple of weeks into my pre-season training so the Melbourne to Warrnambool will get me a lot of base kilometres!” said Wiasak.
Before taking a short break last month, Wiasak was showing strong form by winning the overall at the Amy’s Otway Classic and stage wins at the Sam Miranda Tour. Wiasak will be joined by her High5 Dream Team team-mates, Tessa Fabry and Kendelle Hodges.
Race insiders will be looking to two underdogs to shine, particularly as the race nears Warrnambool: South Yarra resident Purdie Long and Cairns based rider Fiona Yard. Long has had an ideal preparation, with her season built around a performance peak for the Melbourne to Warrnambool. A finisher in the 2015 edition, this second attempt is to address unfinished business. ‘I am here to race it again with the learnings and knowledge gained from last year,’ says Long, ‘and to ultimately improve on my result.’
For Yard, preparation in the north of Australia has been ideal, avoiding much of the spring rain and wind facing the southern states. She has also been able to train with a contingent of six members of the Cairns Cycling Club, led by former Victorian resident Duncan Murray. “He conned all six of us (to enter),” admitted Yard.
Those familiar with Yard recognise her pure determination whenever she gets on her bike, a trait that will become essential when the race clocks over 200km.
At 277km the race distances surpasses distance regulations for both male and female cyclists in Australia, with the race requiring an exemption to the distance rulings in order to be sanctioned. It is also unique in world cycling, where men and women all line up together at the start line.
Cycling Victoria CEO Kipp Kaufmann is pleased to see the women’s event strengthened with equal prize money support from the State Government and support from Warrnambool business, Anchor Point Village. ‘The Women’s Melbourne to Warrnambool has quickly established itself as an iconic event in the cycling calendar’, said Kaufmann. ‘We look forward to working with all stakeholders to continue to grow the women’s race.’
The race begins at Eagle Stadium in Werribee on Saturday 15th October from 7:30am, with riders expected to finish around 3pm (depending on the conditions) in Warrnambool. You can follow the women’s event using the hashtag #WM2W16 or from the dedicated twitter account.
– By Jarrod Partridge
|Race #||Name||Club||Trade Team||Hometown / Now residing|
|281||Doris Marr||Blackburn Cycling Club||Blackburn||Switzerland / Melbourne|
|282||Jessica Douglas||Geelong Cycling Club||Geelong||Geelong|
|283||Bianca Pickett||St Kilda Cycling Club||St Kilda||Launceston / Melbourne|
|284||Fiona Yard||Cairns Cycling Club||Cairns||Adelaide / Cairns|
|285||Purdie Long||St Kilda Cycling Club||St Kilda||Barwon Heads / South Yarra|
|286||Rebecca Wiasak||Canberra Cycling Club||High5 Dream Team||Geelong / Adelaide|
|287||Sophia Mackay*||Wagga Wagga Cycling Club||Specialized||N/A|
|288||Madeline Wright||Albury-Wodonga Cycling Club||Specialized||Woodend / Albury|
|289||Carley Mckay||Alpine Cycling Club||Think Different Cycling||Melbourne / Bright|
|290||Tessa Fabry||Brunswick Cycling Club||High5 Dream Team||Kerang / Melbourne|
|291||Jessica Lane||Melbourne Cycling League||Total Rush Women’s Team||Melbourne / Northcote|
|292||Kendelle Hodges||Brunswick Cycling Club||High5 Dream Team||Werribee / Werribee|
|293||Minda Murray||Bendigo Cycling Club||Rush Women’s Team||Echuca / Bendigo|