While Europe and North American are in the midst of their winter and off-season, the 2016 cycling season gets underway early in Australia with the four-day Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic starting on January 1 in Geelong. The Australian National Championships quickly follow with Ballarat once again playing host from January 6-10 before the racing action heads to Adelaide for the first WorldTour event of the season, the Tour Down Under.
It's not all about the men though with the Santos Women's Tour newly promoted to 2.2 UCI level along with the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race women's event to 1.2 status enticing international and domestic teams down under for some summer racing.
The Tour Down Under is undoubtedly the jewel in the crown of the the 'Australian summer of racing' having attracted former winners of the Tour de France, world champions and some of the biggest names in the sport since it gained ProTour status in 2008. However, in 2015 two of the biggest names in the sport in Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome have chosen rival races to start their 2015 season.
Cavendish makes his Dimension Data debut at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in January 31 while two-time Tour champion Froome will line up with Team Sky at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour on February 3 for five days of racing around Victoria.
Long time Cyclingnews contributor Mark Gunter was a regular feature at cycling events over the summer in Australia, both on the road and at the track, contributing the majority of photographs in the video below. Gunter will be missed by the Australian cycling community with his images a crucial component in the coverage of the early-season races.
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