Herald Sun Tour to follow Tour Down Under: More big teams expected
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Herald Sun Tour to follow Tour Down Under: More big teams expected

by Conal Andrews at 4:30 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

The desire of the Jayco Herald Sun tour to have more top-class teams taking part appears to be on the cards following the news the Cycling Australia has approved a date change for the race.

The 2.1-ranked event will break a 48 year tradition and shift from its normal autumn position, being set to run from February 8 to 13, 2011. The 2010 edition will not be held in order to enable the organisers to prepare for that contest.

Garmin Transitions took the top two placings in 2009, with Bradley Wiggins and Chris Sutton filling those slots. Both riders have since moved to Team Sky.

All of cycling’s top teams currently take part in the Santos Tour Down Under by virtue of the fact that it is a ProTour event. The shift in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour is clearly designed to piggyback on this, boosting the calibre of its own field.

It would see teams spend a substantial portion of the early season in Australia, benefiting from the summer climate there.

According to the Herald Sun newspaper, several big European and American teams have already said they will support the new-look event, including Columbia, Garmin and Saxo Bank.

Cycling Australia CEO Graham Fredericks said that the date change came after a long study by the CA board.

"In arriving at this decision the Board addressed three key objectives, firstly to protect the achievements of the Santos Tour Down Under; secondly to protect the integrity of Australian track cycling, namely the Australian Track Championships and thirdly to retain the Jayco Herald Sun Tour on the UCI calendar and restore the event to its previous stature and profile," he explained.

"Cycling is a growth sport in Australia both in terms of participation and profile and on the world stage Australia is a cycling success story," said Mr Fredericks. "Both the Santos Tour Down Under and the Jayco Herald Sun Tour have been major contributors to this success as has the crucial investment by corporate partners as well as Federal, State and Local governments."

He said that Cycling Australia also planned to work with organisers of Australian and New Zealand events to develop a series of racing and revamp the Oceania road calendar.

The new date of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour will follow the Australian Track Championships, which are scheduled from February 1 to 6 in 2011. The 2011 Santos Tour Down Under is expected to run from January 18 to 23.

Reaction of UCI and Santos Tour Down Under still pending:

The calendar shift is subject to the approval of the UCI. Its president Pat McQuaid expressed concern this year about talk of such change, rowing in behind the Santos Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur in stating that the ProTour event must be protected. Some alleged a date change would see the Jayco Herald Sun Tour try to take over the ProTour licence, but this scenario is highly unlikely.

Fredricks does not envisage a problem with the UCI. “That hasn't been a consideration for us, really - that's a matter for the UCI, it's pretty rare they would knock something back,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“We'd like to think ... the concerns of Pat and the concerns of SA Tourism were taken into account when making this decision. We believe what we've come up with has achieved some balance.

"We believe where we've positioned it gives them [the Jayco Herald Sun Tour] a chance to attract other teams and riders at, I guess, a more motivated end of the season, rather than the struggles that had been had in October in recent years.”

However Turtur’s response is likely to be an interesting one. He objected to talk that foreign professionals might ride this year’s Australian road championships, an open event taking place prior to his race, saying that the Santos Tour Down Under had paid for their transport costs to Australia. He said that the race organisers would have to agree to pay a portion of those travel costs for permission to be given for those riders to compete.

Given that the Santos Tour Down Under would be flying the teams in once again, it remains to be seen if he will demand any compensation from the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.


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