Signing up Chris Froome and Team Sky for the Jayco Herald Sun Tour was considered one of the bigger coups in recent Australian cycling history. Australia's oldest stage race had trumped its WorldTour rival, the Tour Down Under in attracting the reigning Tour de France champion to Australia to start "one of the most eventful seasons" of his career.
Jayco Herald Sun Tour race director John Trevorrow, a three-time winner of the race, described the 63rd running of the race as "sensational" to Cyclingnews as the final podium celebrations were concluding atop of Arthurs Seat.
"It surprised me, I though Peter Kennaugh would win but Joe Cooper delivered the surprise by jumping away," Trevorrow said of the final stage in which Froome's stage win secured his overall victory. "Froomey covered him and it all turned around and then once they hit the hill, Froome just showed his class. Just brilliant."
The 2016 season is the first year that Team Sky haven't had an Australian rider on its roster with the likes of Simon Gerrans, Michael Rogers, May Hayman and Richie Porte all previously riding for Britain's only WorldTour team.
However, with the Australian summer now comprising three quality races to attract WorldTour and Pro-Continental teams, Sky's decision to head down under has been more than justified, with wins at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and first and second overall at the Sun Tour. Plus two Sun Tour stage wins, and the king of the mountains and team classification victories.
"It's been a magnificent tour. I think it's just the right year for them to come because everything just stepped up, the quality of the race, the quality of the set up has taken a big step, and they are very pleased with it," Trevorrow added of Sky's presence in the race. "The racing has been brilliant. The young Australian teams also all stepped up. It has been wonderful."
In 2015, Orica-GreenEdge were the only WorldTour team on the start list. In 2016, the number increased to three with Trek-Segafredo, Orica-GreenEdge and Sky the representatives from the top tier of the sport. Trevorrow explained that he is hoping to grow that number again for the 2017 edition of the race.
"I really do, for sure. We hope to have five WorldTour teams, and already we have been approached by another couple so we might even have six," he said. "What I won't do, is leave out an Australian Continental team for a Pro-Continental team because this is about young Australians getting a chance. That's the heritage of this race. There will always be Pro-Conti teams so hopefully, we can get up to half-and-half one-day."
Asked then whether the race needs to apply for a hors catégorie ranking to attract a greater number of WorldTour teams, Trevorrow was quick to state, "I think it's a 2.1 race, it should be a 2.1 race".
In recent years, the Jayco Herald Sun Tour has seen its number of stages cut, and its place on the calendar moved from the end of season October date to early-season February. With its place on the calendar secure, Cyclingnews asked Trevorrow whether the race could add more days of its racing to the programme in the years to come.
"Maybe one, but the guys like it at the part of the year after doing a couple of races," he said. "They like the five days with the four road stages so it will be interesting to see. I would like one more day, but we'll see."
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