• Chris Froome at the 2016 Jayco Herald Sun Tour. (Getty)Source: Getty
Three-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome will return to Australia defend his Jayco Herald Sun Tour title next February.
Cycling Central

Jayco Herald Sun Tour
1 Dec 2016 - 11:33 AM  UPDATED 2 Dec 2016 - 11:32 AM

Froome is currently In Australia for this weekend's L'etape Australia event and the Team Sky rider took the opportunity to announce a return to the race he won early in 2016 as he prepared for the Tour de France.

He said he was anticipating a tougher battle at the 1-5 February race, with the entry of Colombian Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange) confirmed earlier, but given the success of his early season foray in 2016, there was no reason not to begin his racing season in Victoria again next year.

“I love riding in Australia," Froome said. The weather is great and the crowds always come out in force to support the riders. That makes it all the more enjoyable.

“It’s always tough racing and a really strong, competitive field - so it’s an ideal way for me to kick off my year. I took a similar approach last year and felt it was a great way to set up my season."

“We’ll be out with a strong squad and looking to get 2017 off to a winning start."

Froome accelerates up Arthurs Seat for emphatic Sun Tour victory
Chris Froome (Sky) asserted his dominance in cycling with a solo break on the final climb of the last stage of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, a decisive move that saw him win the stage, the general classification and the King of the Mountains jersey.

The 64th edition of Australia’s oldest race will see Froome lining up against 26-year-old Chaves who had a breakout season in 2016.

Chaves came second in the Giro d'Italia, third at the Vuelta a España and rode to victory at the Giro di Lombardia.

"He (Froome) is obviously happy with how he did last season in winning the Herald Sun Tour and then winning the Tour de France, so maybe we can copy that," Chaves said last week.

"I have started training early, which is new for me. But the important thing is I'm super motivated, I'm happy to do it and I'll go 100 per cent.”

Froome also announced a start at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on 29 January.

Jayco Herald Sun Tour stages

Prologue - Wednesday 1st February – Melbourne Southbank – 2.1km
Stage 1 - Thursday 2nd February – Wangaratta to Falls Creek – 169.9km
Stage 2 - Friday 3rd February – Mt Beauty to Beechworth – 165.6km
Stage 3 - Saturday 4th February - Benalla to Mitchelton Winery - 165.6km
Stage 4 – Sunday 5th February – Kinglake – 120km (4 x 30km laps)