Froome to begin 2016 season at Jayco Herald Sun Tour in Australia

Tour de France winner opts for earliest start since 2010

Team Sky has revealed that Chris Froome will start his 2016 season at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, in Australia, in early February. The news was also confirmed by the Herald Sun newspaper.

It will be the first time Team Sky competes in Australia's oldest stage race and marks an early start to Froome's 2016, as he looks to win the Tour de France for a third time and target gold in the road events at the Rio Olympics. The race comes a few days after the Tour Down Under in Australia, with the rest of Team Sky likely to compete in the Adelaide-based race before joining up with Froome. Cameron Meyer won the Jayco Sun Tour in 2015.

The five-day Jayco Herald Sun Tour is held in the state of Victoria and begins with a 2.1-km prologue time trial on Wednesday February 3, in the centre of Melbourne. It ends on Sunday February 7. Other stages finish on the Arthurs Seat climb south of Melbourne and passes through the Yarra Valley and Gippsland.

It is the first time since 2010 that Froome starts his season this early. In 2015 he began racing at the Vuelta a Andalucía in Spain. Froome rode in the 2008 Jayco Herald Sun Tour as a 23-year-old member of the Barloworld team, when the race was held in October.

"I'm really pleased to start my 2016 season at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour," Froome said in a statement from Team Sky and in the Herald Sun newspaper. "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."

Froome crashed out of the Vuelta a Espana in September fracturing a bone in his foot. He recovered to ride the end of season Saitama criterium in Japan and recently traveled to Brazil to study the course of the Olympic time trial and road race. He is due to release data from some physiological tests on December 3 in response to accusations and doubts about his performances during this year's Tour de France.

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