Simon Gerrans says that Orica-Scott team-mate Esteban Chaves will get the better of Chris Froome during the 2017 season opening races in Australia

Orica-Scott road captain Simon Gerrans has tipped teammate Esteban Chaves to topple triple Tour de France winner Chris Froome on Australian soil early next year.

Speaking from the Herald Sun Tour launch in Melbourne, Australia, Gerrans speculated that the pint-sized Colombian may have the legs to upset Froome and his conquering Team Sky squad in February.

“I’m not sure of their [Sky’s] complete line-up, who else they are bringing out, but I think Esteban will have probably the upper hand on Chris at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, purely because he’s going to have the Tour Down Under in his legs,” Gerrans said.

>>> Watch: Chris Froome in full attack mode as he wins the Herald Sun Tour (video)

“He’s a guy who comes out in good shape early season anyway after doing a block of training in Colombia. I think we should have the upper-hand on them through options and through more racing than Team Sky.”

Team Sky, between Peter Kennaugh and Froome, led the general classification from stage one onwards at the race in 2016 with no other team able to match its diesel engine that typically dictated terms from the front of the peloton.

Chris Froome wins stage four of the 2016 Jayco Herald Sun Tour

Chris Froome on stage four of the 2016 Jayco Herald Sun Tour, on his way to overall victory. Photo: Graham Watson

“They win many, many races in that way so it’s a formula that works for them, and when you’ve got the strongest guy in the race to finish it off it’s a pretty reliable way of winning,” Gerrans observed.

“If that’s the tactic they employ, we’ve got to try and combat it. It depends how well Chris is going and what sort of emphasis he is putting on his condition in January. But if he’s in really good shape it’s a sure fire way to get a result.”

>>> Esteban Chaves to kick off 2017 season with Australian races

Gerrans is set to work in tandem with Chaves across season opening races in Australia, including the Tour Down Under that the 36-year-old will enter as defending champion.

“We’ll play off each other’s strengths. Course wise, the Tour Down Under probably suits me a little bit better and the Jayco Herald Sun Tour probably suits Esteban a little bit better. I think we both should be in good condition, and having a couple of options is going to be an advantage to the team.”

Gerrans is on a one-year deal with Orica-Scott for 2017. The veteran admits he is approaching the “tail end” of his career, but despite that has added more races to his schedule.

“I’m keen to race a little bit more in the 2017 season, so there’s a couple of extra stage races I’ve added in,” he said.

Simon Gerrans at the 2016 Tour de France

Simon Gerrans at the 2016 Tour de France. Photo: Graham Watson

“As I’ve got a little bit older I find it more of a challenge stepping into racing off a huge break and being competitive. I thought I’d try and include more racing in my program this year so I can stay in better condition for a large part of the season.

“Following the races in Australia, the next focus will be the classics, the Tour de France, more than likely in a support role, and we’ll see what’s left in the tank after that.”