Leading American team Garmin-Slipstream will line-up as one of the teams to beat at this year’s Jayco Herald Sun Tour, from 11 to 17 October.
Although the full team line-up for the race is yet to be confirmed the short list includes one of Australia’s most promising rising stars, the reigning points race world champion Cameron Meyer.
Joining him will be Trent Lowe, a former winner of the Make It Happen in Provincial Victoria best young rider classification, and Chris Sutton, who was a part of the Garmin-Slipstream team that won the opening team time trial stage of the 2008 Giro d’Italia.
Australian Olympic representative Matt White, a director of Team Garmin-Slipstream, sees the Jayco Herald Sun Tour as an important race for the team.
“A race like this is an important test to see what level some of the younger guys on the team are at,” White said.
“To be able to win on the biggest stage, like at the Tour de France, you need to learn how to win at races like this.
“The career of Simon Gerrans is a perfect example. He put a lot of pressure on himself to win the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, which he did in 2005 and 2006, and has since gone on to win a stage at both the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia.”
The course for this year’s race will kick off in Ballarat on October 11 and go through Colac, Warrnambool, Apollo Bay, Anglsea, Baron Heads and Geelong before a twilight final-stage circuit race on Lygon Street in Melbourne on 17 October.
“With no big mountain stages the race is going to be very tactical and makes having a strong team even more important,” said White, a former team-mate of Lance Armstrong at U.S. Postal Service.
“With that in mind plenty of thought will go into exactly who we bring down for the Jayco Herald Sun Tour and those selections will be made with the objective of taking the overall honours.
“The plan at the moment is to have New Zealand’s best ever cyclist Julian Dean part of the team, because he is just so valuable in a tough race like this, and most likely some of our feisty Dutch riders who are really well suited to this year’s course.”
Dean, one of New Zealand’s most decorated road riders, is currently racing in his fifth Tour de France, and has played a key role in support of his teammates who have produced strong performances to date.
Garmin-Slipstream has two riders inside the top ten on the General Classification – last year’s fourth place getter Christian Vande Velde currently lies in eighth, and for many the revelation of the Tour this year so far, Bradley Wiggins in fifth, just 46 seconds behind the yellow jersey.
Scotland’s David Millar won the most aggressive rider award on stage six, which followed a second placing for the team, behind the all-powerful Astana line-up, in the team time trial on stage four.
Full details of the course, along with Tour fact sheets, are available at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour website: www.jaycoheraldsuntour.com.au.