The 58th Jayco Herald Sun Tour, Australia’s second-largest stage race behind the Tour Down Under, takes place in Victoria from October 11-17, beginning in Ballarat on Sunday and ending in Melbourne six days later.
Confirmed teams include American squads Garmin-Slipstream, led by Bradley Wiggins, Bissell, led by Ben Jacques-Maynes, Jelly Belly, led by Brad Huff, and Rock Racing, led by Ivan Dominguez.
The Sun Tour dates back to 1952, and past winners include Americans Mike Engleman, Scott Moninger and most recently Tim Johnson, who snuck away with the win on the final stage, benefitting from time bonuses, in 2003.
Last year’s winner, Stuart O’Grady, will not be taking part, but 2007 winner, Australian Matt Wilson, who rides for American squad Team Type 1, is racing with the Jayco Australia National team.
“We should have a couple of cards to play,” Wilson said. “The Jayco Herald Sun Tour is a gamble. You have to make the right breaks. We’ll be hoping to win a stage early, before the time trial. There are a lot of better time trialists than me in the field.”
Wiggins, who has three Olympic gold medals and six track world titles to his name, brings perhaps the biggest star power to this year’s edition after finishing fourth at this year’s Tour de France. The son of Australian professional Gary Wiggins, who died in 2008, Wiggins said the race has special meaning to him.
“For my father, (the Sun Tour) was one of his last races as a professional bike rider and my second father (coach) Shane Sutton won this race,” said Wiggins. “It’s a long standing event and every year, from Simon Gerrans to Baden Cooke and last year with Stuart O’Grady it’s always got a prestigious winner. It’s always decided on someone who is in form and has been racing well during the year.”
Wiggins will have support from Garmin teammates Chris Sutton and Trent Lowe, from Australia, Dutch rider Ricardo Van Der Velde, Canadian Svein Tuft, and Americans Tom Peters and Alex Howe, who is riding as a stagiaire.
Also racing the Sun Tour is Phil Zajicek, Fly V Australia’s sole American at the race. Zajicek recently finished fifth overall at the Tour of Tasmania, behind teammate and Aussie national criterium champion Bernie Sulzberger. Fly V Australia had a successful week in Tasmania, with Jonathan Cantwell taking three stages, Sulzberger taking one stage and Ben Day taking one stage. The team placed three riders in the top five overall, taking the team GC, the best-placed Tasmanian prize and the criterium jersey. Fly V Australia team manager Henk Vogels sees the Jayco Herald Sun Tour as an opportunity to confirm his team’s position as the number-one team in Australia.
“We’ve dominated domestically this year and we hope to cap the season off by winning the Jayco Herald Sun Tour,” Vogels said. “We’ve done races like the Amgen Tour of California this year but this is the largest Australian race we’ll do and we want to showcase what we can do. Based on their form of the past couple of months we’ve got Phil Zajicek, Ben Day, Bernie Sulzberger and even Jonathan Cantwell all capable of winning it.”
With no summit finishes and only a 10km individual time trial on the penultimate stage, the Sun Tour won’t likely be won by traditional GC specialists. Instead, rolling terrain and crosswinds will probably play a big role in determining the race’s champion.
“With the crosswinds, teams will be trying to get organized to smash it down the gutter so I think the whole race will be aggressive,” Vogels said. “The crosswinds will define this race as there isn’t enough climbing to make the big decision. The best time trialist to make it into the main breakaways will win this tour.”
The 58th Jayco Herald Sun Tour
Sunday, October 11
Jayco Herald Sun Preface, Ballarat, 2.2km circuit
(50 minutes plus 3 laps)
The traditional festival to open the Tour will take over the gold rush town of Ballarat with a weekend of activities, culminating in the preface criterium. The criterium doubles as a crowd pleaser and a chance to see which rider has form for the week ahead.
Monday, October 12
Stage 1, Ballarat to Ballarat, 149km
The opening road stage is a 149km course taking in some of the most popular tourist spots in Victoria, starting and ending at Lake Wendouree in the heart of Ballarat. Watch for the stronger teams to try and hold it together for the sprinters.
Tuesday, October 13
Stage 2, Colac to Warrnambool, 141km
The stage 2 route takes the peloton from the cycling-mad town of Colac through dairy country to Warrnambool, another cycling hotbed and home of the world’s second oldest classic race, the Melbourne to Warrnambool. It’s another day likely for the sprinters, but also suited to an opportunistic breakaway.
Wednesday, October 14
Stage 3, Warrnambool to Apollo Bay, 164km
The third stage starts in Warrnambool and winds along the Great Ocean Road through Port Campbell and past the 12 Apostles before heading inland to the hills of the Otways and a spectacular finish into Apollo Bay.
Thursday, October 15
Stage 4, Anglesea to Barwon Heads, 138km
The day before the time trial, riders face a route along the Great Ocean Road from Anglesea to Lorne before a tough ride up to Benwerrin and a chance to hold the advantage taken in the hills on the windy run into Barwon Heads. It won’t be the deciding day of the Tour, but it could be the day many riders lose a chance to win the overall.
Friday, October 16
Stage 5, Individual Time Trial, Geelong, 10km
Geelong hosts the ITT along its waterfront and Botanical Gardens. A mix of technical skill and raw strength will be required on the 10km course and a true all-rounder should shine.
Saturday, October 17
Stage 6, Circuit Race, Melbourne, 4.1km circuit
(80 minutes plus 3 laps)
The race finishes in Melbourne’s Little Italy on a fast and furious circuit that may well decide the Tour as it did in 2006, when Simon Gerrans took the win on the final sprint of the final stage.
• Newly crowned world under-23 time trial champion Jack Bobridge decided to turn his attention to the UCI Track World Cup in Melbourne in November, and will not return to the road for the Sun Tour.
• For the first time a women’s stage race will run concurrently with the Sun Tour, using the resources and infrastructure of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour including rolling closures and fully closed circuits for the time trial and criterium. The inaugural Honda Hybrid Women’s Tour will run from October 15-17 and feature more than 70 women. The three-day stage race will consist of a 55km road race, 10km individual time trial and a criterium race in Melbourne on a 2.1km circuit.
• The Jayco Herald Sun Tour is Australia’s oldest stage race, now in its 58th year. It is one of Australia’s heritage sporting events, supported and revered by generations of Victorians and created by Australia’s largest daily newspaper, the Herald Sun. Title sponsor Jayco manufactures RVs and motorhomes.