Froome confirms 2017 season to begin in Australia

Tour de France champion will return to Victoria for Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and Herald Sun Tour

Three-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) will defend his Herald Sun Tour title in February, confirming his 2017 season will start in Australia with the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on January 29 and the 2.1 stage race from February 1-5. 

"I'm really looking forward to starting my season in Australia again," said Froome, who is currently in Australia for the L'Étape Australia. "I love riding in Australia. The weather is great and the crowds always come out in force to support the riders. That makes it all the more enjoyable."

It will be Froome's third appearance at the race after his 2008 debut and 2016 overall victory. Froome won the queen stage of the race this year to ensure he started the season with a win and laid the foundations for his successful Tour de France defence in July. 

Froome will be aiming to start his season in a winning fashion once again with a strong Team Sky squad expected for the race.

"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," he said. "We'll be out with a strong squad and looking to get 2017 off to a winning start."

Orica-BikeExchange's Esteban Chaves has also confirmed his 2017 season will start in Australia with the Tour Down Under, Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and Herald Sun Tour. Chaves, 26, finished on the Vuelta a Espana podium along with Froome and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) this year and is looking forward to going up against the Briton for an early-season hit out.

"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."

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