Having just placed fifth overall at the Santos Tour Down Under where he claimed his first ever WorldTour points, Nathan Haas returns to the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, a race which launched his career, with condition to threaten for the win. The 2011 overall champion will lead the Garmin Sharp team which enters the race with a strong Australian contingent.
Recently crowded Australian national criterium champion Steele von Hoff will make his return to the race once. The duo were part of the team Genesys Wealth Advisers team, who are now known as Avanti, when Haas won the race in 2011.
Also on the team is 2010 New Zealand road race champion Jack Bauer, two time Dutch time trial champion Thomas Dekker, 2013 Tour of Alberta winner and Olympic Silver medallist Rohan Dennis and the Best young rider at the 2013 Tour of Utah and USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Lachlan Morton.
The best overall result Haas has had since moving to Garmin was second overall at the 2012 Tour of Britain and he will be keen to add another overall title to his palmarès. Haas will be one of three past winners to line up on Wednesday night alongside 2005 and 2006 champion Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) and the 2013 champion Calvin Watson (Trek Factory Racing) who will be racing in the colours of the KordaMentha Real Estate – Team Australia.
More teams announce rosters for Herald Sun
With the change in the race’s UCI ranking to 2.1, which permits international teams to enter, UnitedHealth Care will be sending a team down under with riders who have tasted success in the Victorian race. Tasmanian Karl Menzies was the runner up to Gerrans in 2006 and won a stage the next year. Joining the 36-year-old is Ben Day who was third overall in 2008 and in 2003 was the Australian national time trial champion.
"Most of the team in the past have had success at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour during our careers so it's a race that we see as instrumental in where we are today," Day said.
"It's been a few years since I had the opportunity to race it and it's not often that we race in Australia so that's very motivating.
"I think the Jayco Herald Sun Tour will be on a higher level this year with the new dates. As a team, we are coming to race aggressively and look for opportunities throughout the race."
"When I started racing, the Herald Sun Tour represented the pinnacle of the sport within Australia," Menzies said.
"To be able to return back to this race is a great honour for myself and the team. Team UnitedHealthcare is here to win stages and we also have some great guys for the GC."
The American based team are also bringing out the Italian all-rounder Davide Frattini, Americans Adrian Hegyvary, 2008 Tour of Utah winner Jeffry Louder and Bradley White.
The Terengganu Cycling Team will make its 2014 season debut at the Herald Sun Tour and will target the sprint stages with the dual attack of Harrif Salleh and Anuar Manan. Supporting the fast men will be Anuar Manan, national Malaysian champion Shahrul Mat Amin, Nor Umardi Rosdi and Fakhruddin Mazuki.
The team which formed in 2011 will be hoping to kick off the new season with a bang although the Continental team will be tested by the WorldTour outfits. With the team targeting the Tour de Langkawi later this month, the Australian race will provide ample opportunity to improve the sprint train before the team’s home race.
Garmin Sharp: Jack Bauer, Thomas Dekker, Rohan Dennis, Nathan Haas, Lachlan Morton and Steele von Hoff
UnitedHealth Care: Davide Frattini, Benjamin Day, Adrian Hegyvary, Jeffry Louder, Karl Menzies and Bradley White
Terengganu Cycling Team: Harrif Saleh, Zamri Saleh, Anuar Manan, Shahrul Mat Amin and Umardi Rosdi