It’s one of the toughest and most prestigious races on the Australian calendar and Drapac Professional Cycling has assembled a strong line-up to take on the 2014 Melbourne to Warrnambool on Saturday, October 11.
Drapac previously won the one-day classic in 2012 off the back of a powerhouse ride from Floris Goesinnen, in 2010 via a courageous Rhys Pollock, and in 2006 through Robert McLachlan who sprinted away from his breakaway companions. The team is using the #fightfor4 on social media in the lead-up to the race as a homage to previous success.
This year, Drapac will take to the start line in Werribee with 2013 runner-up Jack Anderson as part of a seven-man squad. Joining Anderson for the 273 kilometres will be Jonathan Cantwell, Darren Lapthorne, Travis Meyer, Lachlan Norris, Malcolm Rudolph, Wes and Bernard Sulzberger.
Directeur Sportif Agostino Giramondo said that Drapac’s past success does not add any pressure with different faces starting the race each year in the red and white. He’s been at the helm for each of Drapac’s previous wins.
“I personally put pressure on myself because this race means a lot to me and my family and it’s always nice to win a Classic event,” Giramondo said with his father, Mario, a two-time winner of the event.
Anderson, who rode the Melbourne to Warrnambool for the first time in 2013, said that the importance of the race, given it’s the oldest road event in Australia and second behind Liege-Bastogne-Liege worldwide, was something that resonated with the entire peloton.
“It’s not only for the Victorians,” he said. “It’s really important for all the guys down there but for anyone in Australia who knows the history of that race, it’s certainly one to look forward to on the calendar.”
Giramondo, impressed by Anderson’s ride for a rival team in 2013, said that he could be one to watch in 2014 among a strong Drapac line-up.
“Jack Anderson is in good form could go close to winning if he plays his cards right and saves a lot of energy early in the event,” he explained with Anderson adding that the importance of a measured performance was a lesson he took from 2013.
“Last year I was in the first break that got away after about 40 or 60km and I think that was probably a mistake,” Anderson said. “273km is a really long way and we saw last year, the guys, whoever had the most energy left at the end won. It’s not a case of who’s going the best or, who’s the smartest bike rider or, who’s the best sprinter – it’s whoever’s got the most energy left. After that amount of time on the bike that’s purely what it’s about.”
Giramondo said that the team’s performance at last week’s Tour of Tasmania would be a boost for the squad taking on ‘the Warny,’ including stage winner Wes Sulzberger and fourth overall, Norris.
“Norris is definitely a contender as he is showing great form in Tasmania, but for him to have a chance he needs to be in a small group coming into the finish,” he said.
“Sulzberger is my pick as again he is coming into form at the right time of the year and with his sprinting power he could win it for the team.
“Rudolph could be a surprise packet if comes down to a bunch sprint of 30 riders as he rides the one day classics very well,” Giramondo concluded with Rudolph a former winner of the 228km Grafton to Inverell.
Anderson, who didn’t race in Tasmania, was buoyed by the results of the last week.
“When the team’s winning, everyone’s on a bit of a high so two stage wins in two days, that’s a great morale boost for the guys and I’m sure that will carry over to the Warny,” he said. “I know the team’s had some success there before so of course, that’s really going to get the fire burning in the belly for most guys and hopefully we’ll get the win on Saturday.”