THREE-TIME Melbourne to Warrnambool champion Peter 'Bulldog' Besanko is excited to see the continued growth of Australia's oldest one-day race.
Besanko, who stormed to victories from scratch in 1984, '89 and '92, is returning to the seaside city to tell his story at the Legends of Cycling dinner on February 15 - the night of the race's finish.
The 65-year-old backed the direction the Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling committee and Cycling Victoria were taking with the 125-year-old race.
"Hopefully in 10 years' time it will be a lot higher-ranked race and they can lure internationals," the 18-time participant said.
"Over the years they have had them and I raced against a few. With the (Herald) Sun Tour a week before the 'Warrny' and it's a good move to have it at this time having moved it to February from October.
"It's a great race, even people in Europe talk about the race which is good but there is still long way to go.
"But they are heading in a good direction having it in February compared to at the end of season for European teams in October and there are more girls riding it, which is great to see."
Melbourne-based Besanko, who is the joint record-holder for most wins with David Allen (1976, '79, '82), was eager to see two-time winner Nathan Elliot equal and break the pair's record.
"I'd be the first to congratulate him if he joins the magic three club," he said.
"Records are meant to be broken and hopefully he can join the club."
The two-time national champion will present trophies and jerseys after the 267-kilometre race.
The retired plumber, who still cycles at least 100 kilometres a week, admitted the peloton had it slightly easier today.
"Things have changed a lot since back in our day when we weren't allowed to be handed food and drink on the side of the road otherwise we would be disqualified for outside assistance," he reflected.
"I had three water bottles, two on the bike and one in my pocket, I packed my food with me and it was a skill and you needed a lot of preparation for the race like that.
"I don't think things have changed much in terms of getting miles in the legs.
"Before I won my first I had three thirds and a second and my advice to a young person disappointed by not getting the win is just keep trying."
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.