The Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic is the second-oldest one-day race in the country, surviving two world wars, the great depression and two pandemics.
The south-west community has always found a way to keep the race moving. Its past has been littered with incredible feats and sadly financial turbulence.
Not for the first time, organisers are pleading with the state government for help after it cut its contribution. The state is arguing it gave $20,000 extra this year to ensure a stand alone women's classic was held on the Sunday, making it a cycling festival weekend.
But without that $20,000, organisers say the women's race is now likely to be scrapped. As the organising committee's executive officer Shane Wilson said this week, women were for the first time provided with equal billing and accorded equal respect.
It was a significant step forward for women's sport.
But the cost of marshalling, coordinating road closures and traffic management is duplicated with the stand alone race the day after the open classic.
The community committee which works tirelessly to stage the event can't wave a magic wand to replace the state government's reduced contribution. It already does an incredible job in delivering such a professional product and it so dearly wants to elevate women's cycling, after all, one of Australia's best, Commonwealth Games gold medallist Grace Brown, hails from Camperdown. Instead, the women's race will either be scrapped or revert back to the days when women made up the numbers in the open classic.
The Dan Andrews-led state government has marketed itself as a leader in gender equality but its decision to cut funding for the women's race is a major disappointment. Women's sport deserves better. Women's cycling deserves better.
As we have seen with the men's race, the event inspires future athletes. Who will forget the boy from west Warrnambool Michael Lynch winning the classic in 1986 and Terang export Jamie Drew claiming it twice in 1999 and 2002. They grew up watching the bikes whirr past, dreaming they could one day be in the thick of the action.
Grace Brown has proven 'this girl can', winning races internationally. But imagine the impact a local winner of the women's race would have on girls across the region.
Nobody likes a grinch, especially at Christmas. The state government has to get on its bike and reinstate the funding. It's the right thing to do.
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