When dates for the 2013 Jayco Herald Sun Tour were released last year it came as an initial shock to learn that January would be the new month during which Australia’s oldest stage race would be held.
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM

Moving the event from October was difficult to comprehend at first, particularly as the Sun Tour is steeped in six decades of tradition.

But after what was witnessed this past week, it seems the height of summer is the perfect time of year for a big bike race like this one.

Why not capitalise on national media coverage in a week when most international sport is in a "mini hiatus"?

The big boat race from Sydney to Hobart is done, the international tennis season hasn't properly kicked-off while cycling and cricket don't seem to clash in any way.

So after four tremendous days of bright sunshine and brilliant racing, it's fair to say the latest edition of Victoria's premier cycle race is on winner as part of a serious summer of Aussie cycling.

While it's no longer a member of cycling's international calendar, what this bike race now does is propel the profile of our home-grown talent who are bursting to gain recognition.

In fact the first four finishers on the Sun Tour general classification were under-23.

Names that are known amongst cycling's domestic fraternity, through the Subaru National Road Series (NRS), have opportunities to cut a path to success in Europe courtesy of the Sun Tour.

The 20-year-old Calvin Watson is one such rider and a glowing example of what the Sun Tour has to offer after his brilliant victory at the weekend.

And have a look at the Uni-SA team announced to compete at the Santos Tour Down Under, all are products of the NRS.

Throw in the experience of European-based pros or former winners like Stuart O'Grady, Simon Gerrans, and Nathan Haas and the mix of talent was a delight to see on the roads through Victoria.

And how perfect is the natural setting of Arthur's Seat as a finale to the race?

It's no Mont Ventoux, Alpe d'Huez or Stelvio, but Arthur's Seat is an accessible mecca as the thousands who congregated on Sunday will testify, while the twilight finish overlooking Port Phillip Bay from the Mornington Peninsula was spectacular.

So what is the next step for the Sun Tour?

Extending the event from four days to six in line with other national road races would be a great start, while generating sponsors for live television coverage is imperative.

Luring teams from Asia to escape the northern winter would no doubt boost the race's international credibility with the possible view for inclusion of the International Cycling Union (UCI) Asian Tour.

A race with international depth would enhance the ambitions of those chasing national titles in Ballarat and success at the Santos Tour Down Under later in the month.

Despite being embroiled in political battles over the years, its clear the Jayco Herald Sun Tour is here to stay.