Ian Bibby, who made history by becoming the first British winner of the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic, is looking to extend his winning start to 2017 on Australian soil at next month's Herald Sun Tour with confirmation he is of one of the leader's for the JLT Condor team. Sprinter Brenton Jones is also chasing success at the stage race after medalling the Australian national criterium title this week.
Joining Bibby and Jones for the race will be Ali Slater, Edmund Bradbury, Alex Frame, and James Gullen.
"Obviously a stage race is a lot different to the criteriums that we have ridden over the last three days," 30-year-old Bibby said after his overall Bay Crits win. "However the success myself and the team have enjoyed during the Mitchelton Bay Classic gives us the confidence to press on with our training in the next few weeks so we give ourselves the best possible chance to compete with some of the best riders in the world at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour."
Jones will make just his second appearance at the race, aiming to go better than the third and fifth places he recorded before a spectacular crash forced him to abandon in 2015. With rival Caleb Ewan skipping the race, Jones is confident of getting a result for his new team.
"The prologue has my name on it, it's fast, explosive and I know I'll be in the mix," Jones said of the 2.1km opener in Melbourne on February 1. "I'd love to start the season off on a high, so I'll be aiming to put my new team colours onto the podium - top step on the podium."
With friends and family watching on, Jones is hoping he can deliver on the big stage for them.
"I love the Aussie summer, always a great atmosphere, quality competition with riders looking to start the year off on a high," said Jones who is also aiming for the stage win at Mitchelton Wines. "To race in front of family, friends and the many locals is something I thrive on too, it's not every day they get to watch you compete in front of them. It's usually on the TV or a live stream, so it's like having some extra determination to impress just that little bit more."
Before racing gets underway, JLT Condor will embark on a training camp in the Victorian city of Bendigo with either Bibby or Steve Lampier to be chosen as the team leader at its conclusion. Team boss John Herety explained that the objective of the team is to chase stage wins and make their presence felt via breakaways.
The Herald Sun Tour takes place February 1-5 with the gruelling climb to Falls Creek on stage 1, and the final day Kinglake circuit likely yo determine the overall winner with Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) leading the list of favourites.