The Herald Sun Tour will become an International Cycling Union (UCI) ranked event in 2014 with a move to February in a bid to attract an international field.
The response from those World Tour Teams and riders we have spoken to about the potential for a February Herald Sun Tour has been overwhelmingly positive.
The Victorian tour, which last held UCI status in 2011, will be classified as a UCI 2.1 level event. It will run from Wednesday 5 to Sunday 9 February.
The UCI has agreed in principle to the date change and classification upgrade, with the UCI Road Commission likely to ratify the decision at a meeting later this month.
After a period of uncertainty, a hiatus in 2010 as Geelong hosted the UCI Road World Championships and a move in 2013 from October to a three day event in January, Herald Sun Tour organising committee chair Tom Salom said he was thrilled that the UCI Road Commission had agreed to the new dates and status.
"As an iconic event in Australian cycling we congratulate the UCI in sharing our ambitions to not only keep the Herald Sun Tour alive, but see it prosper," said Salom.
"The return to UCI 2.1 level status will enable the participation of the international World Tour teams and international riders who will once again mix it with the best Australian domestic teams."
The 2014 event will mark the 61st edition of the Victorian Tour which has been a key event in the development of local riders with domestic teams racing against WorldTour teams.
“As we have seen over many years the Herald Sun Tour is a crucial step in the development pathway, particularly for riders from Australia and New Zealand, but also from Asia and even Africa in recent years," said Oceania Cycling Confederation president Tracey Gaudry.
"For national and continental teams to be able to ride alongside the WorldTour teams and riders provides a great opportunity and that mix is what makes the Herald Sun Tour a crucial component of the global cycling calendar."
“The UCI Road Commission agrees and has supported a new date in February and a return to world level status for the event. This will provide certainty for the future and marks an exciting start to the rebuild of the Oceania Tour."
Race director and three-time Sun Tour winner John Trevorrow said the world’s best riders and teams were keen to have confirmation of the new date so they can determine their plans for the 2014 season.
"The response from those World Tour Teams and riders we have spoken to about the potential for a February Herald Sun Tour has been overwhelmingly positive," said Trevorrow.
"Many are keen to extend their summer racing and training in Australia before they return to Europe for the spring Classics and they are already expressing a strong desire to participate."
The new calendar position of the Herald Sun Tour sees the event align with the WorldTour Tour Down Under from 19 - 26 January, and the UCI 2.2 New Zealand Cycle Classic from 29 January to 2 February.