A change to the newly established UCI ProTour has provided a new and exciting opportunity for Victoria's oldest and most prestigious stage race, the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.
Running from Wednesday 12 to Sunday 16 October, the new-look, five-day race will begin in Whittlesea on the outskirts of Melbourne and culminate with the traditional circuit race on Melbourne's Lygon Street. The 59th edition will also take in regional Victoria including the home of the national cycling championships, Ballarat, and host of the 2010 UCI Road Cycling World Championships, Geelong.
Piggy-backing off the Tour of Beijing (5-9 October 2011), the schedule change puts the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in the perfect position to attract world-class riders from Australia and abroad along with some of the strongest professional teams on the international cycling circuit.
Race director Michael Hands said the timing of the 2011 event provided the Jayco Herald Sun Tour with the opportunity to attract some of the world's strongest professional outfits.
"We are extremely pleased to have been able to work through the scheduling of the 2011 Jayco Herald Sun Tour with the UCI and Cycling Australia to enable the best opportunity to further enhance Australia's oldest stage race," Mr Hands said.
"We are working together with the UCI and organisers of the Tour of Beijing and are looking to secure between four and six professional outfits which would put together the strongest field in the events history.
"As always, it will be our aim to host the strongest teams that contain an Australian flavour such as Aussie young guns Cameron Meyer and Jack Bobridge (Garmin-Cervelo), Simon Gerrans and Mathew Hayman (Team Sky), Michael Matthews and Graeme Brown (Rabobank), Ritchie Porte and Baden Cooke (Saxo Bank) and Stuart O'Grady (Leopard Trek)."
Minister for Sport and Recreation Hugh Delahunty is looking forward to welcoming the world's best riders back to Victoria.
"After the success of the 2010 UCI Road World Championships which attracted an incredible 293,000 cycling fans to the streets of Geelong, the Victorian Government is proud of the development of cycling both professionally and recreationally across the state," he said.
"The Jayco Herald Sun Tour has a long and proud history in Victorian cycling, with Russell Mockridge, Barry Waddell, Shane and Gary Sutton and Simon Gerrans amongst those featured on the prestigious Sun Tour honour roll and no doubt the winner of the 2011 edition will be a fitting addition.
"The Tour provides us with the ultimate opportunity to showcase some of Victoria's most impressive attributes, in particular booming regional areas such as Ballarat and Geelong."