December 13, 2020
It has been 125 years since the first Melbourne to Warrnambool Classic, when 20 riders vied for a £30 bicycle
The long and winding road of an Australian cycling race older than Tour de France | Kieran Pender
At 4.30am on Monday, 15 cyclists rolled off from the Haymarket roundabout on Elizabeth Street in central Melbourne. To any onlookers, the bleary-eyed group must have seemed incongruous; even the most eager cyclists do not typically begin their bunch rides before dawn. But as they rode out of the city, the group – which included Tour de France legend Phil Anderson, former Mitchelton-Scott stalwart Simon Gerrans, AusCycling chairman Duncan Murray and past national champion Rob Crowe – had something more profound on their minds. They were commemorating history.
One hundred and twenty-five years ago to the minute, eight cyclists set out from Haymarket on a 270km ride to Warrnambool on Victoria’s south-west coast. They were followed 90 minutes later by five more riders, who were observing a handicap. The group was participating in the second official Melbourne to Warrnambool Classic, and the first to begin in Melbourne (the inaugural race, in October 1895, commenced in Warrnambool).
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