Melbourne to Warrnambool set to excite with the world’s longest women’s one-day race

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WATCH the men’s race from Melbourne to Warrnambool on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. (AEDT) LIVE via SBS On Demand / SBS Cycling Central Facebook, while Sunday’s coverage of the women’s race begins at 10:30 a.m. (AEDT) LIVE via SBS On Request / SBS Cycling Central Facebook.

For the first time in the Classic’s 127-year history, the event will feature the first stand-alone women’s race – spanning 160 kilometers and providing riders with a race like no other.

Beginning in Colac, the peloton will be put to the test almost instantly on its rugged terrain, before embarking on a race to the coast that could entice the large teams to move.

Several small climbs near the Warrnambool finish will serve as the last chance for the contenders to attack, and Sarah Gigante could be one of them.

The Movistar rider is hoping to make her long-awaited return to competition in Victoria, having missed the Tour of Gippsland last weekend after testing positive for COVID-19.

Gigante hasn’t raced since the Olympics last July, when a worrying heart condition – later revealed to be myopericarditis – sidelined her for the rest of 2021.

She had hoped to use the National Road Series events as practice for her European efforts later this season and as a result will likely experiment with an aggressive, solo approach to proceedings on Sunday.

Georgie Howe – backed by Kate Perry and Lisa Jacob – is a top contender at Gigante, as is Australian national road racing champion Nicole Frain (Roxsolt Liv SRAM).

Howe enters the race full of confidence after his overall success at Gippsland, with his Stage 2 win providing the perfect practice for what’s to come in the Classic.

Frain, too, is entering the race in good shape and hopes her performance can cap off a successful summer with a professional contract abroad.

Inform TMX Make star Matilda Raynolds will also have podium chances, as will Amber Pate, who has shown she can sprint, climb and time trial with equal effect.

A two-time winner, where the women previously raced in the men’s event, Raynolds knows what it takes to get the job done and will benefit from the extra 100 kilometers she no longer has to account for.

Meanwhile, Team Bridgelane’s James Whelan is the favorite for the men’s race, having won the South Australia Cycling Festival and trailing only Luke Plapp to the national road championships.

Whelan’s side are one of the strongest to adapt to the men’s 267 kilometer course and have former Melbourne winner at Warrnambool Nick White in their ranks for good measure.

ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast’s Cameron Scott is another rider many believe will overcome headwinds and challenge for the podium, with Brenton Jones (Inform TMX Make) not too far away.

Scott took two stage wins at Gippsland just days ago in an outstanding team performance, aided by overall winner Kane Richards and the ever-impressive Angus Lyons.

The track and road star will once again be at the heart of his team’s plans at the Classic and will be very hard to beat should any group approach the finish line.

The 170-person platoon will kick off from Avalon Airport this Saturday, and SBS On Demand/ SBS Cycling Central Facebook will have all the action LIVE starting at 11:30 a.m. (AEDT).

Men’s race from Melbourne to Warrnambool

Saturday February 19

11:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (AEDT)

Men’s race streamed live on SBS On Demand and SBS Cycling Central’s Facebook page

Highlights will air on SBS Cycling Central and SBS On Demand

Women’s Run from Melbourne to Warrnambool

Sunday February 20

10:30 – 13:00 (AEDT)

Women’s race streamed live on SBS On Demand and SBS Cycling Central’s Facebook page

Highlights will air on SBS Cycling Central and SBS On Demand

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