Pinch and a punch… it’s the first of the month. Summer is here and it’s time to ride. There’s a buzz around cycling in Australia at the moment and the news is only getting better for sports fans.
Today it was confirmed that the three-time Tour de France champion, Chris Froome, will be racing in Victoria again this summer.
The defending champion of the Jayco-Herald Sun Tour will be back in action at that race from 1-5 February.
“I love riding in Australia,” Froome said in the official release issued earlier today.
“The weather is great and the crowds always come out in force to support the riders. That makes it all the more enjoyable.
“It’s always tough racing and a really strong, competitive field – so it’s an ideal way for me to kick off my year. I took a similar approach last year and felt it was a great way to set up my season.”
We’ve known for a few months that Froome would be riding in Australia over the summer. He’ll be part of the L’Etape ride in the Snowy Mountains this weekend and although he’s not likely to appear at the Santos Tour Down Under – which kicks off the 2017 WorldTour season in January – it wouldn’t be surprising if he was to announce his participation in other races in what’s shaping up to be an exciting ‘Summer of Cycling’.
The appearance of Froome isn’t just a token gesture to collect appearance fees either. RIDE understands that the agreement to race does not include a significant investment to procure the services of the star. And Team Sky’s performance manager, Rod Ellingworth confirmed that there’s serious intent to chase results, not just ride along for training in what is expected to be good weather conditions.
“Our guys are ready for some hard and competitive racing to start off the season, and they know they’re going to get that in Australia,” said Ellingworth in the official release.
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Clearly Australia is the place to race early in the new year. We already know that Peter Sagan and Colombian cycling darling, Esteban Chaves, will be contesting the Tour Down Under (14-22 January) as well as a wealth of other star riders.
Then comes the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race (28 January) which makes its WorldTour debut in 2017.
(Update: it was announced an hour after the news about the Jayco-Herald Sun Tour that Froome would also be appearing at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.)
Team Sky rider, Peter Kennaugh – who wore the leader’s jersey in the Victorian stage race this year – was the winner of the second edition of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.
The event that starts and finishes in Geelong is the first one-day race on the 2017 WorldTour calendar and Froome is going to be part of the line-up for Team Sky next January.
And before all that there will, of course, be the national championships in Ballarat.
The days are getting hotter. Summer is here. There’s a lot of great racing coming up. Now is the time to ride – and plan your cycling holidays.
Where will you be?