Herald Sun Tour to move to February, obtains UCI ranking

The Herald Sun Tour will move to February and be ranked as a UCI 2.1 race, in a bid to attract a more international field. The Australian race will be held February 5-9 in 2014.

The new date allow riders to stay in the southern hemisphere for several weeks and ride up to three races. The WorldTour ranked Tour Down Under is January 19-26, followed by the UCI 2.2 New Zealand Cycle Classic (January 29-February 2).

The Sun Tour was first held in 1952. As of 2000, the race was held in October, and in 2005, received a UCI ranking for the first time. In 2009, organisers recommended that the 2010 race not be held, and that it resume in 2011 in February. The race returned in October 2011. It was held as a three-day National Event in January 2013, which excluded most professional teams.

Now the UCI "has agreed in principle to the date change and classification upgrade, with the UCI Road Commission likely to ratify the decision at a meeting later this month," according to SBS.com. The race dates will be confirmed by the UCI at the road race world championships in Tuscany.

"As an iconic event in Australian cycling we congratulate the UCI in sharing our ambitions to not only keep the Herald Sun Tour alive, but see it prosper," said race organising committee chairman Tom Salom.

"The return to UCI 2.1 level status will enable the participation of the international World Tour teams and international riders who will once again mix it with the best Australian domestic teams."

Race director John Trevorrow says that responses from the WorldTour teams and riders has been "overwhelmingly positive. Many are keen to extend their summer racing and training in Australia before they return to Europe for the spring Classics and they are already expressing a strong desire to participate."

The Oceania Cycling Federation also praised the step as a a "crucial" one for developing riders. "For national and continental teams to be able to ride alongside the WorldTour teams and riders provides a great opportunity and that mix is what makes the Herald Sun Tour a crucial component of the global cycling calendar," said Confederation president Tracey Gaudry.

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