It was a long solo effort for men’s Dirty Warrny victor Tim Cutler, while in the women’s race, it was a battle till the end for Matilda Raynolds, who gapped last year’s winner Courtney Sherwell on the run into the line of the 246km Australian gravel event.
The pair had also gone toe to toe at the Gravelista World Series event in Beechworth, just two weeks ago, but this time the order of the top two steps in the women’s category was reversed. That gave Raynolds a Dirty Warrny title to add to her two victories at the road race which inspired the gravel event, the long-running Melbourne to Warrnambool.
“There is just something about the Warrny,” said Raynolds in an interview straight after the finish line, shared on the race’s Instagram page. “I wanted this one because I’ve got a bit of history here, I won’t swear because I can see children …but it was very challenging,” she said in a tone that clearly indicated that the degree of difficulty could not be conveyed by a careful, measured description.
Raynolds took 8:41:24 to complete the race from Geelong to Warrnambool, which included over 3,000m of elevation gain. Sherwell was just four seconds behind when she crossed the grassed finish line, while in third it was Movistar rider Sarah Gigante, who was more than 25 minutes back.
In the men’s race, there was no waiting around for Cutler – who came to notice when he made his strength clear with his efforts in the break at the Melbourne to Warrnambool in 2022. Cutler leapt out the front at the very start of the race, quickly pulling out a solid gap and never relenting.
“I was just out there having a go and it just somehow paid off, incredible,” said Cutler, who expressed his disbelief after the line.
The 28-year-old crossed the line in 7:49:26, with the ever-competitive Mark O’Brien nearly five minutes back in second while Hayden Jarvis claimed the final spot on the podium, finishing just over nine minutes back from Cutler. Last year’s winner Brendan Johnston came over the line in sixth, while expected challenger Connor Sens had an unrelenting stream of punctures which put the Australian champion out of the running.
FDJ-Suez rider Grace Brown claimed the 140km women’s event from Forrest to Warrnambool while Jack Aitken won the men’s category in that distance.
It was the second edition of the Dirty Warrny, which is run in south-west Victoria on 85% gravel roads and. with its rough surfaces as it weaves through small regional locations, harks back to the history of the long-running road race which first ran in 1895.