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We’re nearing the end of the Australian summer of cycling, but it’s not quite over yet. This week the women’s and men’s pelotons head to regional Victoria for the Jayco Herald Sun Tour. Here’s what you should know about the races.
The women’s course
Now in its third edition — and now promoted to UCI 2.1 — the Lexus of Blackburn Women’s Herald Sun Tour is again being contested over two stages (Wednesday February 5 and Thursday February 6).
Stage 1: Shepparton to Shepparton (94 km) – A day for the sprinters but if there’s wind around it could cause some headaches.
Stage 2: Falls Creek to Falls Creek (75 km) – The stage starts with a 30 km descent from Falls Creek, heads into a short flat loop, then hits the 30 km climb back up to Falls. It’s the first summit finish in the history of the women’s race. The race will be decided here.
Riders to watch for the women’s race
Here are the riders that could have an impact on the race:
Lucy Kennedy (Mitchelton-Scott): The defending champion will be the big favourite to win again this year. She’s the best climber in the field and should win on Falls Creek on Thursday, paving the way for overall victory.
Note that she’ll start the race with only three teammates — Gracie Elvin, Jess Roberts and late inclusion Sarah Roy — after a big crash at Cadel’s Race on Saturday left half of the original Mitchelton-Scott squad unable to start the Sun Tour.
Sarah Gigante (Tibco): The Aussie time trial champion climbs well and should get an opportunity to shine on Falls Creek.
Emily Herfoss (Roxsolt-Attaquer): One of the most impressive riders of the summer so far — second at Race Torquay, third in Nationals ITT and fourth in Nationals road race. Herfoss is a strong all-rounder that climbs well and could be in the mix on Thursday.
Ruby Roseman-Gannon (Pro Racing Sunshine Coast): It’s been a breakout summer for the 21-year-old who’s been very impressive in sprints. In the absence of Chloe Hosking (so many of her Rally teammates are injured from a big crash at Cadel’s Race that the team couldn’t field a squad for Sun Tour) Roseman-Gannon is arguably the rider to beat on stage 1.
Peta Mullens (Roxsolt-Attaquer): An experienced racer with a strong sprint. Could be a good chance on stage 1.
Jaime Gunning (Specialized Women’s Racing): The 21-year-old climber should be right in amongst it on Falls Creek.
The men’s course
The 67th edition of Australia’s oldest stage race will again be contested over five stages (Wednesday February 5 to Sunday February 9). Stage 2 and stage 4 will decide the general classification.
Stage 1: Mitchelton Winery to Shepparton (121.9 km) – A stage for the sprinters. If there’s wind around the bigger teams could be keen to try and split the race.
Stage 2: Beechworth to Falls Creek (117.6 km) – The first of two big mountain-top finishes for the race. There’s a few lumps and bumps along the way, but it’s all about the 30 km climb that ends the stage.
Stage 3: Bright to Wangaratta (187.1 km) – Probably a bunch sprint but not necessarily. Two early climbs (Tawonga Gap and Rosewhite Gap) could be interesting, and a late climb with 16 km to go could provide a nice launch pad for the opportunists.
Stage 4: Mansfield to Mt Buller (106.6 km) – The second mountain-top finish. An early climb up to Tolmie could put some riders into difficulty but as with stage 2, it’s likely to be all about the final climb. It’s around 16 km to the top of Buller with a steep section right at the top.
Stage 5: Melbourne circuit race (89.1 km) – Like last year the race concludes with a circuit race around Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens (22 laps of a 4 km circuit). Each lap features the punchy Anderson Street climb but based on last year, it’s likely to end in a reduced bunch sprint.
Riders to watch in the men’s race
Here’s who we think you should keep an eye on:
Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott): Yates is the strongest climber on the startlist and will be the rider to beat on both of the summit finishes. On paper he should win the race.
Damien Howson (Mitchelton-Scott): Last time the Sun Tour visited Falls Creek Howson won the stage and the overall. Could he get his chance again, or will he be riding for Yates?
Rob Power/Jai Hindley/Michael Storer (Sunweb): Three great young Aussie climbers that could feature heavily on the two uphill finishes. Power was strong uphill at the Tour Down Under and Hindley was second behind Howson on Falls Creek in 2017 while racing for the national team.
James Whelan and Neilson Powless (EF): Two promising young riders with a lot of talent, particularly when the road heads uphill.
Marcus Culey (Sapura): A very strong allrounder who rode brilliantly to take third at the Aussie Road Nationals last month. A dangerous opportunist who could well snag a stage win.
Kaden Groves (Mitchelton-Scott): Perhaps the sprinter to beat on stages 1, 3 and 4. He’s only in his first year in the WorldTour but should be strong enough to take a stage win.
Alberto Dainese (Sunweb): The 21-year-old Italian has been good this summer, finishing fifth on a stage of the Tour Down Under and third at Race Torquay. He’s got a good chance of taking a sprint win.
Moreno Hofland (EF): Another good sprinter who can battle with the best on his day.
Nick White (BridgeLane): A versatile rider with a strong sprint. A good chance for a sprint victory as well.
You’ll be able to catch both the women’s and men’s races live online. If you’re in Australia, Kayo Sports is your best bet. The sports streaming platform has a free 14-day trial available.
If you’re outside Australia, you’ll be able to catch the broadcast via the GCN Racing YouTube channel.
If you’re following the race on Twitter, be sure to follow @HeraldSunTour and the #SunTour hashtag.