Power returns as ORICA-SCOTT prepare for mountain battle at Jayco Herald Sun Tour

Tue 31 Jan 2017

ORICA-SCOTT will welcome Robert Power into their seven-man line up for the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, the final race of the Australian summer, which starts tomorrow evening with the now traditional city-centre prologue.

Power replaces fellow West Australian Luke Durbridge who returns to Europe, with the remainder of the squad remaining the same from Sunday’s Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race where Simon Gerrans sprinted to second place.

The Jayco Herald Sun Tour, Australia’s oldest stage race, has been touted as a mountain showdown with a newly introduced parcours featuring the 30km climb to Falls Gap on Thursday. 

Two-time 2016 Grand Tour podium placer Esteban Chaves will lead ORICA-SCOTT’s overall hopes, backed up by Power, two-time Jayco Herald Sun Tour champion Gerrans, key mountain sidekick Damien Howson, plus workhorses Sam Bewley, Michael Hepburn and Victorian Mitch Docker.

The Colombian, who finished second overall at the Tour Down Under, is looking forward to returning to some familiar territory.

“I am really looking forward to the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, particularly the second day,” Chaves said. “I was at Falls Creek in my first trip to Australia, when I couldn’t speak a word of English, and I remember this climb.” 

“The climb is much longer than the short, punchy climbs we have raced in the Tour Down Under and Cadel’s race, and it is more like the climbs we have in Colombia so should be a little better for me.

“I am looking forward to racing Chris Froome here. We have not raced against each other a lot, so I am enjoying learning more about how he rides, how he is with his team and this is all a good experience for me. 

“He has already shown in the Cadel race and the criterium that he is in good form and he is here to race, even if it is early in the season. He is a champion of this sport and we cannot wait to race him again.” 

The Queen stage into Falls Creek on Thursday will go a long way to determining the general classification battle, but sport director Matt Wilson believes the stages to follow are far from simplistic.

“The Falls Creek climb should be spectacular finish to stage one,” Wilson said. “It’s clear that Chris Froome and Team Sky are the ones to watch in the general classification battle and they have a number of guys who can play a role, but we would be naïve not to consider other contenders too.” 

“After this, stage two has an 11km climb towards the end in Beechworth and the final stage in Kinglake is also quite gruelling so the action is far from over.

“The 2017 Jayco Herald Sun Tour is definitely one of the tougher courses we have seen here for a while and we obviously hope to finish our Australian season strongly.”

ORICA-SCOTT at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour (1-5 Feb):

Sam Bewley (NZL, 29)
Esteban Chaves (COL, 27)
Mitch Docker (AUS, 30)
Simon Gerrans (AUS, 36)
Michael Hepburn (AUS, 25)
Damien Howson (AUS, 24)
Robert Power (AUS, 21)

Jayco Herald Sun Tour – Details:

Wed 1st February – Prologue: Melbourne Southbank, 2.1km
Thu 2nd February – Stage 1: Wangaratta to Falls Creek, 174.2km
Fri 3rd February – Stage 2: Mt Beauty to Beechworth, 165.6km
Sat 4th February – Stage 3: Benalla to Mitchelton Winery, 167.7km
Sun 5th February – Kinglake, 121km