Mitchelton-Scott aiming for Herald Sun Tour defence with Howson

Chaves ready for first stage race of 2018

Australian WorldTour team Mitchelton-Scott starts the 2018 Herald Sun Tour aiming to close out the Australian summer with its fourth overall win in five years.

The team started the summer with Alex Edmondson winning the national title before Daryl Impey added the overall Tour Down Under title. Impey was then third at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. The Sun Tour is now the final target of the summer with defending champion Damien Howson, 2015 winner Cameron Meyer and Esteban Chaves headlining the squad.

"The Sun Tour is always a special race, the team has always done really well. I have been fortunate to be involved in a few wins with Cameron Meyer and Simon Clarke, and also last year to get my own piece of glory was very special to me and something I will always remember," Howson said ahead of the race.

"Going in as defending champion, I am very excited. It'll be a new experience and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to come back to the Sun Tour and racing well."

The 2018 Herald Sun Tour is one of the more challenging routes in race history with the queen stage to Lake Mountain a leg-sapping 218 kilometres. The previous day's stage 2 from Warrnambool to Ballarat at 198.6 kilometres also testing the riders early in the season. While stage 3 is set to decide the overall, the final day circuit race around Kinglake will be the final deciding factor.

For Meyer, the final stage will be key and explained a full team effort across the five days of racing will be required to secure the yellow jersey.

"Winning the 2015 Jayco Herald Sun Tour was a real highlight in my career. The prestige and history behind the event makes it special to join such a honour roll," said Meyer.

"I am looking forward to all the stages as this year's route looks new and interesting. The one that really stands out to me is the final day around The Kinglake Climb. I think we won't know the winner until the very end and it’s a tough day to finish the tour."

Howson turned from worker to winner last year to secure the win off the back of his Falls Creek stage victory. The Australian though is likely to ride in support of Chaves who was active in the finale of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race Sunday.

Also lining out for Mitchelton-Scott is Edmondson, Michael Hepburn, and young climbers Rob Power and Lucas Hamilton. Meyer is the only rider in the squad over the age of 30.

The 65th Herald Sun Tour starts Wednesday with a 1.6 kilometre prologue in the heart of Melbourne's CBD. 

Mitchelton-Scott for 2018 Herald Sun Tour: Esteban Chaves, Alex Edmondson, Michael Hepburn, Damien Howson, Robert Power, Lucas Hamilton, Cameron Meyer.

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