• Chris Froome will race in Australia in February (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Reigning Tour de France champion Chris Froome (Sky) has confirmed he will start his 2016 race season in Australia with the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.
Cycling Central

Team Sky
17 Nov 2015 - 8:57 AM 

Froome, who also won the Tour de France overall classification in 2013, will use the Jayco Herald Sun Tour as the launch pad for his back-to-back yellow jersey assault at next year's Tour de France. 

In doing so, the Kenyan-born Brit will become the first Tour de France champion to compete in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, with Team Sky also making their debut at the race.

This is a massive boost for the Victorian event, which is Australia’s oldest road cycling stage race.  

The 63rd edition of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour will be staged from Wednesday 3rd to Sunday 7th February, as the climax to the summer of cycling. Commencing with a 2.1-kilometre prologue and finishing with a showdown on Arthurs Seat, the event will also ride through the Yarra Valley and Gippsland during the five days.

"I'm really pleased to start my 2016 season at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour. Victoria is a beautiful part of the world and racing in the warm climate will give me a good platform for the new season.

“We don't often get a chance to race in front of our Aussie fans so we're all looking forward to seeing them over there as well." – Chris Froome

2016 promises to be a huge year the 30-year-old, with the Tour de France title defence and a tilt at the Rio Olympic Games time trial and road race among the major dates in his calendar.

It is extremely rare for a reigning Tour de France champion to race in Australia. Cadel Evans did not do so after becoming the only Australian to win the Tour in 2011.

Disgraced cycling star Lance Armstrong raced at the Sydney Olympics only a few weeks after claiming his second Tour title.

Froome rode in the 2008 Jayco Herald Sun Tour as a 23-year-old member of the Barloworld team, coming off a debut Tour de France where he rode strongly up Alpe d'Huez and in the final time trial.

The two-time Tour de France champion is good friends with Australian cycling star Richie Porte, who has left Sky and will compete next year for BMC. Last summer, Froome visited Porte in Tasmania, where they both raced in the Launceston Cycling Classic.