The race was first held in 1895. 50 riders entered, 24 started, and only 7 finished. The first race was won by Andrew Calder who received 2 hours’ start on the scratchmen. He took 11 hours, 44 minutes, 30 seconds for the 165-mile trip, and was reported to have “got through on eggs, milk, and beef extract". 95 years later, Olympic gold medallist Dean Woods clocked a stunningly fast 5 hours, 12 minutes, 26 seconds to set the course record...
The late Sir Hubert Opperman recorded the fastest time on 3 occasions - in 1924, ‘26 and ‘29.
Only five overseas riders have won the event - the New Zealanders J Arnst (1903) and P Hill (1922), Switzerland’s Daniel Schnider in 1997, Bart Heirewegh, of Belgium in ‘98, and Sweden’s Jonas Ljungblad in 2005.
The late and great Russell Mockridge, double gold medallist at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games, clocked fastest time in 1956 and ‘57. (He rode 5 hours, 47 minutes, 5 seconds in ‘56.)
The race has been held 90 times. Extensive recesses were taken during the war years.
It has been run in the reverse direction, from Warrnambool to Melbourne, 32 times.
Only two Warrnambool riders, Olympian Michael Lynch (1986) and Jamie Drew (1999 & 2002) have won the Classic.
The first woman to finish the race was England’s 7-time world champion, Beryl Burton in 1980. Beryl, 43, clocked 7 hours, 11 minutes, 12 seconds.
In 1901, Nullawil’s Albert Nioa pedalled 200 miles to get to the start of the race. He then defied atrocious conditions to win it in 9 hours, 20 minutes, 40 seconds.
In 1909, Coburg rider Snowy Munro, 21, embarrassed the Victorian Railways Commissioners by clocking 7 hours, 12 minutes, 51 seconds - 5 minutes faster than the best train time from Warrnambool to Melbourne.
The “Warrnambool” was held as a massed start event for the first time in 1996. The surprise winner was Bendigo’s Chris White in 6 hours, 44mins, 16secs. Germany’s Ralf Grabsch won the newly-introduced sprint championship.
Another history-maker - the “Warrnambool” was listed on the UCI calendar in 1997, with 126 rating points.
1997 - The closest finish in the race’s history. Switzerland’s Daniel Schnider defeated Dennis Rasmussen, of Denmark, by a centimetre - after 265kms.
In 1999, the course was extended by 10kms, and a king of the mountains classification was introduced.
2004: The ‘Warrnambool’, at 299kms, becomes the world’s longest one-day bike race and is the world’s second oldest bike race (behind Liege-Bastogne-Liege).
2008: The event is named the grand final race in the National Teams Series by the Australian Cycling Federation.