Elite trio the ones to beat in Herald Sun Tour
THE 2017 Jayco Herald Sun Tour is shaping up as a match race between three of the world's best road cyclists.
Three-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome, two-time Jayco Herald Sun Tour winner Simon Gerrans and world-class climber Esteban Chaves will provide Victorians with a close-up showcase of elite cycling.
Australia's oldest stage cycling race has been elevated in recent years with the presence of World Pro Tour teams such as Team Sky and Orica-Scott.
These two elite teams will again be pitted against 13 Pro Continental and Continental teams giving up-and-coming riders from Australia and many other countries an opportunity to ride against the world's best.
The race runs from Wednesday until Sunday, with a prologue and four stages across Melbourne and country Victoria.
With all the hype over a brutal stage one, the final day of this year's tour has been strangely overshadowed.
But the riders will know all about it come Sunday afternoon.
After three days on the road in Victoria's north-east, they will be hit with a gruelling 121km four-lap circuit of the Kinglake-Melbourne cycling mecca 60km outside the CBD.
Froome, Chaves and co must navigate four 9km ascents of the scenic Kinglake-Glenburn Rd on the "backside" of Kinglake, but there will be no time for any sightseeing.
"This is a sensational new course that we have hand-picked to create an amazing final stage," race director John Trevorrow said.
"With four climbs the stage is as hard as the finale that saw Froome claim victory last year (on Arthurs Seat).
"Kinglake is a popular destination with the cycling community so we are expecting a huge crowd."
TOP 10 RIDERS TO WATCH
1. Chris Froome (Team Sky)
2. Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott)
3. Ben Dyball (St George Continental Cycling Team)
4. Nathan Earle (Korda Mentha Real Estate Australian National Team)
5. Janier Acevedo Calle (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team)
6. Michael Storer (Korda Mentha Real Estate Australian National Team)
7. Jonathan Clarke (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team)
8. Pavel Brutt (Gazprom-Rusvelo)
9. Marcelo Felipe (7 Eleven Roadbike Philippines)
10. Cameron Bayly (Isowhey Sports Swisswellness)