It's a sad day for organisers, riders and everyone involved with the premier National Road Series event after the race - that was set to start tomorrow morning - announced that the event will be postponed until later in 2021.
"By directive of the Victorian Government and as a result of the stage 4 COVID-19 restrictions imposed, the 2021 Powercor Melbourne to Warrnambool classic and the Royal Bikes Port Campbell to Warrnambool handicap have been postponed," said a press release from organisers.
"The race organisers and AusCycling are committed to conducting a successful 105th edition of the race and hope to confirm the new date for 2021 as soon as possible."
There had been a flood of news in the build-up to the race, with a bumper field assembled for the event, including Team BikeExchange stars Grace Brown and Cameron Meyer, as well as riders who between them collected 16 medals between them at recent Australian national championships. The race was set to be streamed on the SBS Cycling Central Facebook page, which will now not go ahead.
Event director Karin Jones, along with key staff and volunteers, had been putting the finishing touches towards the preparation of the 2021 Melbourne to Warrnambool, with the race due to start from Avalon Airport on Saturday morning.
“So much has gone into the preparation and I’m just devastated for everyone involved,” said Jones. “I’m sorry for the staff, sponsors, organisers and most of all the riders that have come from all over Australia for what we had hoped would have been one of the best-ever events.
“My family and I put a lot into this race and growing it for everyone to enjoy and that won’t stop because of this setback. We’re going to come back with a bang, bigger and stronger later in 2021.”
Jones runs the race together with the owners of the Melbourne to Warrnambool, the Warrnambool Citizens Road Race Committee, who had been gearing up for a bumper edition of the legendary race but are keen for the event to return later in the year.
“We believe the most prudent step is to provide time and space for the Warrny 2021 to run,” said committee chair Shane Wilson. “We are very hopeful that a delay to later in the year will allow our great event to run in a COVID-free environment.”
Naming sponsors Powercor Australia have been a reliable supporter of the race over the past years and are a major reason why the race was in the position to deliver what was shaping to be a brilliant event in 2021.
“This will be disappointing for so many people and I want to acknowledge the riders, committee and the community who have put so much time and effort into preparing for this event,” said Powercor Australia’s Brand and Partnerships Lead, Nina Ivanovic.
“The reception and interest from the community this week has highlighted how iconic this event is and we will be working hard to deliver an exciting and highly competitive event later this year.”
A new race date will be confirmed as soon as possible to provide clarity for everyone involved in the event.
Entries received for the Melbourne to Warrnambool will be carried over to that new race date or can be refunded by AusCycling on request.