The 2017 Sun Tour (formally the Jayco Herald-Sun Tour but that’s a mouthful) concluded last Sunday with Stage 4, with a circuit race around Kinglake.
Kinglake being one of Melbourne’s best training grounds for local cyclists (the climb from St Andrews is a popular benchmark) and only around an hour’s drive from Melbourne, the stage was well attended.
It was an exciting stage, with Sky’s Ian Stannard just hanging on for the win, after a trademark attack from the breakaway with just over a kilometre to go. He very nearly cocked it up, overestimating his lead and taking his sweet time to amble across the line with a two-arm salute, while Aaron Gate (AquaBlue) charged at the line behind him.
Damien Howson took the overall win comfortably, with his strong Orica-Scott team controlling the race and protecting the lead he’d built on Stage 2 at Falls Creek. Howson really developed into a valuable climbing domestique in 2016 (remember him turning himself inside out for Esteban Chaves on stage 20 of the Vuelta, to help the Colombian grab 3rd place overall?) and it’s easy to forget that he’s still only 24. He’s lightly built, and an excellent time triallist. I think he’ll have a big 2017.
I was a little less mobile on the course than usual, due to bringing my 1-year old daughter and her grandmother along to see the likes of Chris Froome, Chaves, Simon Gerrans and Cameron Meyer in action. Mum doesn’t get to many bike races (although she pointed out that in his youth her father once followed the Sun Tour around and used to ride his bike from Ouyen to Mildura to race, and then – possibly apocryphal – back) but she does follow the French Tour, so it was a thrill for her to see the stars up close. Her anecdote is also a reminder that the Sun Tour is a race with a great history in Victoria, and the list of winners is full of great riders.
And that is really the thing about the Sun Tour – in its current incarnation it’s a perfect mix of the world’s elite, domestic aspirants, and the club cyclists and enthusiasts who rode out to spectate. And all of it is within touching distance.
On Saturday I dropped into Brunswick CC to check out the Dirty Deeds CX round at the Harrison St velodrome. I had a great day soaking up the vibes, in glorious sunshine, snapping away and listening to some high quality heckling from the posse of bearded hipsters perched at the top of the hill.
Brunswick is running some really good events, and it’s definitely something that my own club, Blackburn CC, should aspire to.
I don’t race CX (I don’t have an appropriate bike and i’m already at ‘S-1’) but it looks like heaps of fun.
I’ll post a selection of images here, but click through to Flickr for a handful of high quality shots, or G+ for the full album at web resolution. Full-res shots with no watermark are available for purchase, just ping me on G+ or Twitter.
by Tim Renowden, who was roadside for the race. All images courtesy of Tim.
While the Northern Hemisphere shivered through ice, snow, mud, and darkness, Australian cycling had its first major event of the 2014 season this weekend. Simon Gerrans of Orica-GreenEdge claimed his second national champion’s jersey after winning a promoter’s dream three-man sprint from Cadel Evans and Richie Porte.
European and North American shivering through icy winters and polar vortices may struggle to picture the cream of Australian road cycling sweating it out under blazing sun, in January, for a national champion’s jersey. This early in the season? Really? In the sun?
The Australian road championships have become increasingly prominent over recent years, as the fields have grown in depth significantly. Despite being ridiculously early in the season for most Europe-based pros, it comes just a week before the UCI season kicks off with the…
The Mitchelton Bay Crit series is on this week along the coast to the west of Melbourne, predominantly around Geelong and Williamstown. It’s a great last-minute tune up for racers competing in the National Road Championships, and also a very early season hit-out for other top Aussie professionals riding for World Tour or Pro Continental squads. I headed down to Geelong’s Eastern Park to catch Stage 2 of the race, and snapped some photos and video to capture the scene.
While the Northern Hemisphere pros are stuck inside on trainers, or getting muddy in cyclocross races, the Aussies are lucky enough to get warm conditions and some early opportunities to burn the off-season away. As a result this series attracts some big name international riders, including Orica-GreenEdge stars Matt Goss (who won this stage), Luke Durbridge, Leigh Howard, Michael Hepburn and Mitch Docker. Garmin-Sharp’s sprinter Steele Von Hoff also made an appearance, along with newly-uncontracted former Orica-GreenEdge sprinter Allan Davis. There were also plenty of up-and-coming riders including Caleb Ewan, and local talent from the Australian National Road Series (NRS).
Matt Goss claimed the victory after a strong team performance from his Orica-GreenEdge team. Luke Durbridge was particularly aggressive throughout the race, but Michael Hepburn and Mitch Docker were also active. Leigh Howard finished third, behind young sensation (and future GreenEdge rider) Caleb Ewan (Subaru-NSWIS).
The women’s Elite field was equally star-studded, fielding former world champion Giorgia Bronzini and her Wiggle-Honda team; the world’s #1 ranked women’s team Orica-AIS; Specialized-Securitor; and Team Vanderkitten.
Stage winner Chloe Hosking (Roxsolt) surprised Bronzini with an early sprint to grab victory, with track star Annette Edmondson (Orica-AIS) third. Gracie Elvin, riding for the Australian national team, and former Orica-AIS rider Tiffany Cromwell (newly signed with Specialized-Securitor) completed the top five.
All in all it was a fun day of spectating and an easy way to catch some of the best riders in the world. I definitely recommend checking the race out if you live in or around Melbourne.