A women's road race added to the Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Festival is being billed as a an opportunity to "attract the world's best riders to regional Victoria".
The 160-kilometre trek from Colac to Warrnambool, via the Great Ocean Road, will complement the 267-kilometre men's race for the first time next year.
The Lochard Energy Women's Warrnambool Cycling Classic is scheduled for Sunday, February 20 - a day after the time-honoured Powercor Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic.
Small women's fields have competed alongside men in the classic but the introduction of a separate event, the world's longest single-day women's race for 2022, is expected to encourage more participants.
Matilda Raynolds, who was the first woman home earlier this year, said she endorsed the change.
"This is fantastic, and while I will miss rubbing shoulders and racing with the boys, it is so good to finally have a women's event that we can call our own and continue to grow the breadth and depth of the women's field and as the event solidifies itself, we will get Worldtour riders," she said.
"I'm incredibly grateful to so many people, like our race executive who have paved the way previously.
"I'm always conscious of the symbolism, especially to that little girl who might be watching on the sidelines as we go through these country towns - you can't be what you can't see, so I'm excited to be able to provide that for young women and it becomes a global event we can all be proud of."
Event patron Tracey Gaudry, who is part of an all-female executive team, was the first woman to make the classic's time cut in the 1994 edition.
She is backing the festival's new direction.
"In recent years the Melbourne to Warrnambool has embraced the opportunity for women to compete within the men's event, however across the globe the cycling world has signalled that it is time for elite women cyclists to battle it out on their own stage," she said.
"The women's 'Warrny' will provide a platform for Australia's most talented women cyclists to shine and be a vital launchpad for international competition.
"The women's 'Warrny' is ideally positioned for future UCI sanctioning as a one-day classic to attract the world's best women riders to regional Victoria."
Event director Karin Jones said the announcement was the culmination of dedication and foresight.
"This has taken a lot of hard work by many people to realise this moment and our attitude of never giving up on bringing the race to fruition," she said.
"I'm immensely proud of my team, honoured to be staging and underwriting the event and glad that my passion and determination over the past two years will now see the race officially take place."
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