• Esteban Chaves is a Jayco Herald Sun Tour pre-race favourite. (AAP)Source: AAP
The Herald Sun Tour starts with a prologue but Thursday's Falls Creek stage is looming large for the big general classification favourites.
1 Feb 2017 - 8:29 AM  UPDATED 1 Feb 2017 - 8:32 AM

Falls Creek is familiar terrain for Esteban Chaves and the Colombian cycling star looks forward to his likely duel there with Chris Froome.

The Tour could be decided in Thursday's first stage, a 174km stage from Wangaratta to the summit finish at Falls Creek.

The 2017 Jayco Herald Sun Tour starts with a twilight Prologue in Melbourne on Wednesday 1 February which will be broadcast LIVE on the Cycling Central Facebook page from 1815-1930 AEDT.

While this has been the first summer he has raced in Australia, Chaves rode the long Falls Creek climb a few years ago during an Orica-Scott team camp.

"I like the climb - it's similar to one I have in Colombia ... it's really nice," Chaves said. "We will try to attack this climb.

"The form is good and in the Tour Down Under, there were good sensations, also in Geelong."

Chaves finished second overall behind Australia Richie Porte at Adelaide's Tour Down Under and also was among the leaders in Sunday's Cadel Great Ocean Road race.

Adelaide's key climbs were short for a rider like Chaves, but the road to Falls Creek is a long drag that better suits his strengths.

There is a lot of excitement around Chaves after his breakouts results last season.

He finished second overall at the Giro d'Italia and third at the Vuelta a Espana, as well as winning the Lombardia one-day classic.

Orica-Scott are aiming for their first overall title in a Grand Tour - the Giro, the Vuelta or the Tour de France.

Chaves and British twins Adam and Simon Yates are the Australian team's Grand Tour riders.

Meanwhile, Froome will defend his Herald Sun Tour title at the start of a campaign he hopes will culminate with a fourth Tour de France win.

Froome was asked whether going into the Victorian race as the defending champion would change his mindset but noted he is asked the same question often about his Tour de France campaign.

"Personally I don't like to look at it like that, because it's a clean slate each time," he said. "You have every to gain, (as) opposed to going in there with a defensive mindset.

"Every edition is different and again, I'm here to race to be best of my ability."

While Froome's Team Sky looks strong, it will be a rider short.

They are down to six men after Owain Doull was struck down with appendicitis.