The Tour Down Under has come to an end but the pro peloton hasn’t left Australia just yet. Next up on the schedule is the Herald Sun Tour, a four-stage race held in Melbourne and provincial Victoria. While it’s no Grand Tour, the event has gained more attention after Chris Froome decided to use it to kick off his 2016 season.
Froome decided to come back for a second time, which has led to some of the other grand tour contenders targeting the race as well. Froome will have some stiff competition in Esteban Chaves and Richie Porte, and the 2017 edition could be the one to place the little tour on the world stage.
Here’s a look at the main contenders.
Odds to win the 2017 Herald Sun Tour
Chris Froome: 9/11
The three-time Tour de France winner is back to defend his 2016 Sun Tour win. Once again, he is the heavy favorite but this year he will have to really fight for it. Team Sky dominated the tour last year on the strength of Froome and teammate Peter Kennaugh. Yet this will be Froome’s first race of the season and he’ll be using it to gauge his early-season fitness. That doesn’t mean he’ll be taking it easy, but others in the bunch will already have some racing under their belts and will be in better form. Still, Froome is ultra-competitive and will want to start his season with a win. His track record makes him a deserving favorite almost anytime he hits the start line in a multi-stage race.
Richie Porte: 4/1
BMC’s Richie Porte is off to a great start with a convincing win in the 2017 Tour Down Under. The Australian took both hill stages, attacking early each time and leaving the peloton for dead. The Sun Tour will not be as simple, though. He’ll be up against his former teammate Froome, whom he has struggled to beat since leaving Team Sky for BMC.
Esteban Chaves: 17/3
Australian team Orica-Scott will be throwing its weight behind Esteban Chaves, who had a breakout year in 2016. While the other teams are just warming up to the season, Orica-Scott have gone all out for the Australian events.
Chaves placed second in the Tour Down Under, behind Richie Porte, and he’ll be looking to go one better this time.
Peter Kennaugh: 19/1
Sky’s Peter Kennaugh led the Sun Tour last year up until the final stage before relinquishing the lead to his team leader, Froome. He will be riding for Froome once again this year, but if anything disrupts Froome’s race, Kennaugh will be given the chance to ride for himself.
Photo credit: “Chris Froome | The First Man to Cycle through the Eurotunne” by Jaguar MENA, CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0], via Flickr.