Chris Froome (Team Sky) will start his 2017 season at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race (January 29) and Jayco Herald Sun Tour (February 1-5) in Australia.
Froome took the overall honours in the five-day 2016 Sun Tour, kicking off what would turn out to be another successful season that saw him take a third Tour de France victory, a bronze Olympic time trial medal, win the Critérium du Dauphiné and place second overall in the Vuelta a España.
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However, one thing that Froome did not face in Australia last year was Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange). Rapidly emerging Grand Tour talent Chaves has also elected to kick off his 2017 campaign in Australia.
The Colombian will ride against Froome in both the Great Ocean Road Race – now a WorldTour-level event – and the Sun Tour, after also competing in the Tour Down Under.
The Sun Tour has been altered for 2017, with a longer route and plenty of climbing – something which should provide Froome and Chaves with a form tester, even if both riders may be some way off peak condition so early in the year.
“I love riding in Australia. The weather is great and the crowds always come out in force to support the riders. That makes it all the more enjoyable,” Froome told the Herald newspaper.
“It’s always tough racing and a really strong, competitive field — so it’s an ideal way for me to kick off my year. I took a similar approach last year and felt it was a great way to set up my season.
“We’ll be out with a strong squad and looking to get 2017 off to a winning start. I’m really looking forward to starting in Australia again.”
Last year, Froome won the race overall by attacking on the final day‘s climb-peppered stage to take a solo victory and with it the overall win.