Simon Gerrans has confirmed his appearance at the Herald Sun Tour with Orica-BikeExchange to ensure a full quota of the Australian summer races, starting with the Australian national titles early-next month. The 36-year-old won Australia's oldest stage race in 2005 and 2006 but hasn't ridden the Victorian event since 2014.
The Orica-BikeExchange team had previously announced that Colombian Esteban Chaves would be making his Australian racing debut in 2017, lining out at the WorldTour events, Tour Down Under, Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, and the Herald Sun Tour. Gerrans will be linking up with Chaves all three races and is looking forward to racing on his usual training roads.
"I'm just excited to get back racing in Victoria again. The race is also growing in strength and popularity and I'm also going to have a big January. By the time I string the nationals, Down Under and Cadel's race together I should be in good shape by the time the Sun Tour comes around that's for sure," said Gerrans. "I haven't done it in a couple of years, but it's a race that I grew up watching as a kid and a race I really aspired to win really early in my career.
"I've done many hours of training throughout my career up around Bright, Tawonga Gap, Falls Creek kind of area. I think the race will be blown wide apart from day one and I think we'll have a very good idea who is going to win at the end of the first stage."
With Chris Froome also set to race the five-day event which will venture into the high country of Victoria, including the challenging climb up Falls Creek, Gerrans is realistic about his overall ambitions but is still aiming for a high overall result.
"I'll never say it's not possible to win because you never know how the race will unfold, but looking at the course I think it's going to be a two-rider race to be very honest with you," he said. "And fortunately, one of those riders is going to be in my team."
The full Orica-BikeExchange seven-man team, up from six riders in 2016, will be announced in coming weeks along with further team and rider announcements.
Orica-BikeExchange sports director Matt White recently told Cyclingnews of the teams ambition for the 2017 Australia summer with Chaves and Gerrans as its two co-leaders. To read his plans for the packed January racing period down under, click here.
2017 Jayco Herald Sun Tour
Prologue, Wednesday, February 1: Melbourne, 2.1km
Stage 1, Thursday, February 2: Wangaratta - Falls Creek, 169.9km
Stage 2, Friday, February 3: Mt Beauty - Beechworth, 165.9km
Stage 3, Saturday, February 4: Benalla - Mitchelton Winery, 165.6km
Stage 4, Sunday, February 5: Kinglake Loop, 121km