MELBOURNE, Australia (CT) – Chris Froome (Sky) will begin his 2016 season in Melbourne’s Federation Square tomorrow evening when he takes to the start ramp of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour prologue.
Speaking at a media event this afternoon, the reigning Tour de France champion appeared relaxed, telling the press he didn’t have a particular goal for the five-day, UCI 2.1 race.
“It’s been almost five months now since my last race so I’m not too sure what to expect,” Froome said at The Arts Centre Melbourne. “Training has gone well throughout the winter for me and I’ve had a good block of training down in Adelaide now with a couple of the guys who finished the Tour Down Under.
“I think as much as anything this week will be a good test for me to see just where we’re I’m at and hopefully we get some good riding in at the same time.”
Froome attracted some criticism earlier in the month for not attending the Santos Tour Down Under and instead opting for the smaller Sun Tour as his first race for the year. But for the Kenyan-born Brit, it was a simple case of timing.
“If I look back at the last five years I’ve always started the season in February. So even this is quite early for me,” Froome said. “I think the Tour Down Under was just going to be a little bit too early.
“And given this year also my wife and I have just had our first little baby boy, it was good for me to spend a little bit more time at home before starting the racing season.”
This isn’t Froome’s first visit to the Herald Sun Tour — he raced it in October 2008 as part of a Barloworld squad that also included Daryl Impey and Baden Cooke. Froome finished fourth overall in that edition after taking second on a stage that ended atop Mt. Buller. That particular stage was won by mountain biker Chris Jongerwaard while Stuart O’Grady won the race overall.
While many cycling fans will be keen to see the two-time Tour de France lighting up their favourite training roads this week, Froome isn’t putting pressure on himself for early season results.
“I’m pretty much going to take it stage by stage and see how it pans out,” Froome said. “I think we’ve got a great team here, a strong line-up of guys who can be competitive throughout the race. With any luck we could be looking at the overall victory.”
Joining Chris Froome in Sky colours at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour will be the recent winner of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race — Peter Kennaugh — Luke Rowe, Ian Boswell, Salvatore Puccio, and Sebastian Henao.
The race begins with a 2.1km prologue time trial along Melbourne’s Southbank from 6:15pm tomorrow evening, followed by four road stages through the Yarra Valley, West Gippsland and the Mornington Peninsula.
Stay posted to CyclingTips for further coverage from the 2016 Jayco Herald Sun Tour.