144 riders from 17 countries, including a record 72 international riders, line up for Australia's Jayco-Herald Sun Tour this Sunday with a team time trial in Williamstown. Last year's winner Jonas Ljungblad from Sweden returns, joined by pre-race favourite, American Danny Pate, riding for the US-based Jelly Belly team.
National teams from Australia, Japan, and Ireland along with teams from the USA, Britain and Japan will also feature in the 18 team start list that includes European professional teams such as Davitamon-Lotto, AG2r Prevoyance, Amore & Vita, and the French powerhouse FDJ. Australian continental team Cyclingnews.com-Fondriest will also be riding the race for the first time.
The Australian assault will be led by 2002 winner Baden Cooke, Athens Olympic gold medalist Brett Lancaster and 2005 Tour de France debutant Simon Gerrans. All three grew up in country Victoria and have watched countless 'Sun Tours' pass through their town as they developed their passion for the bikes.
A feature of this year's Tour will be the community celebrations in each host city, featuring sports carnivals, celebrity bike races and health expos. Mitchelton winery in Nagambie will feature a charity concert for Very Special Kids featuring James Morrison.
The final day of the Tour will be broadcast live around Australia and will be followed by 'Celebrate on Lygon', a colourful and exciting festival that salutes the diversity of people, culture and creativity throughout Victoria on three entertainment stages along Lygon Street.
Stage 1 - October 9: Williamstown - Team Time Trial, 9.6km
Stage 2 - October 10: Bendigo - Bendigo via Maldon and Castlemaine, 150.9km
Stage 3 - October 11: Bendigo - Shepparton, 153km
Stage 4 - October 12: Nagambie's Mitchelton Winery - Marysville, 172.6km
Stage 5 - October 13: Healesville - Healesville, 140.9km
Stage 6 - October 14: Monbulk - Mt Dandenong, Individual Time Trial, 11km
Stage 7 - October 15: Lygon St criterium, 1 hour
More information: www.heraldsuntour.com.au