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Jayco Herald Sun Tour cancelled for the third year running

"Ongoing logistical, planning, timing, and workforce challenges" have seen another edition of the race cancelled.

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The Jayco Herald Sun Tour, Australia’s oldest stage race, has been cancelled for a third-straight year. The 2023 edition of the race through regional Victoria won’t be run “due to ongoing logistical, planning, timing, and workforce challenges.”

In a statement to CyclingTips, race organisers explained that they had “been working diligently behind the scenes in a bid to make the event possible next year” but that, after much consideration, “there are now genuine health and work safety issues for riders and staff” that ultimately forced both the men’s and women’s races to be shelved.

It is not clear what those “health and work safety issues” are but CyclingTips has requested further information from race organisers.

“This has not been an easy decision, or easy process to arrive at this point, and as custodians of this historic race we are disappointed that it will not be proceeding in 2023,” said Jayco Herald Sun Tour chairman Tom Salom. “We thank the [Victorian state] government and industry stakeholders for their collective efforts, and we are acutely aware of the importance of this as an event across the state.”

The Sun Tour last ran in 2020 when now-Giro d’Italia-winner Jai Hindley took out the men’s event, and Lucy Kennedy won her second-straight edition of the women’s race. The 2021 Sun Tour was cancelled due to “the uncertainty and unpredictability caused by the impact of COVID-19”.

There were plans to bring the race back in 2022, but again the knock-on effects from COVID proved a barrier. “The unpredictability that COVID-19 brings to our event presents too many challenges for us to proceed next year,” Salom said in September 2021. “In particular, the quarantine restrictions that come with COVID made it very difficult to attract the best international riders.”

Again, the hope was for the race to return in 2023 but those plans, too, have now been abandoned.

CyclingTips understands that the contract to run the Sun Tour, held by GTR Events in recent years, expired during the pandemic and was not renewed. 

The Sun Tour was held every year from its first edition in 1952 right through until 2009 but has been held less consistently since. The 2010 race wasn’t held due to a clash with that year’s Road World Championships in Geelong and the 2012 edition wasn’t held either, as organisers worked to move the race from its traditional October timeslot to February. The race returned in 2013 but was only a domestic-level event, before returning to the international calendar in 2014.

The Sun Tour ran every year from 2013 through to 2020, with international stars like Chris Froome, Esteban Chaves, and Dylan van Baarle taking overall victories, but hasn’t been held since 2020. Race organisers hope the event will return in 2024. “Our focus will now turn to the future and planning for the 2024 edition of Australia’s oldest stage race which proudly lists Olympians and Grand Tour winners amongst its honour roll,” Salom said.

In other news on the Australian summer of racing, Race Torquay, the one-day race for women and men held in the days before the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, also doesn’t appear to have survived the COVID pandemic. The race’s only edition was held in 2020 (with Brodie Chapman and Sam Bennett taking wins) but after being cancelled alongside Cadel’s Race in 2021 and 2022 due to the pandemic, Race Torquay hasn’t returned.

There’s more positive news to be found elsewhere on the Australian summer racing calendar, though. After two years as the domestic-level Santos Festival of Cycling, the Tour Down Under returns in 2023. For the first time ever, the women’s event will join the men’s TDU as a WorldTour-level event. Cadel’s Race, too, returns after a two-year absence.

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