Australian sprinter Brenton Jones along with 2017 Mitchelton Bay Classic series winner Ian Bibby, will spearhead the hopes of the UK’S longest standing UCI Continental cycling team, JLT Condor, when racing gets underway in Melbourne’s Federation Square on Wednesday 1st February. The 25 year-old, is keenly aware of what it will take to claim the opening yellow leader’s jersey at the 2017 Jayco Herald Sun Tour.
“The prologue has my name on it, it’s fast, explosive and I know I’ll be in the mix,” said the young Victorian ahead of his home tour.
The 64th edition of Australia’s oldest stage race will be held around Victoria from Wednesday 1st to Sunday 5th February 2017.
Jones, the bronze medallist in this week’s Australian criterium championship, will be joined by Bibby who said that his team’s performance in the opening days of the season was evidence that the squad assembled in Australia was working well together.
“Obviously a stage race is a lot different to the criteriums that we have ridden over the last three days,” Bibby explained after his Bay Crits win. “However the success myself and the team have enjoyed during the Mitchelton Bay Classic gives us the confidence to press on with our training in the next few weeks so we give ourselves the best possible chance to compete with some of the best riders in the world at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.”
Of course those riders include three-time Tour de France champion and defending Sun Tour title holder Chris Froome and the ORICA-Scott duo of two-time event winner Simon Gerrans and Colombian climber Esteban Chaves.
In 2015 Jones finished just one second off first place in the CBD Prologue, behind Caleb Ewan and winner, Will Clarke.
“I’d love to start the season off on a high, so I’ll be aiming to put my new team colours onto the podium – top step on the podium,” Jones, who joins JLT Condor from Drapac Professional Cycling said.
Having raced in Asia, North America and Europe in recent seasons, Jones is looking forward to showcasing his talents on the roads of his home state at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.
“I love the Aussie summer, always a great atmosphere, quality competition with riders looking to start the year off on a high,” he said. “To race in front of family, friends and the many locals is something I thrive on too, it’s not every day they get to watch you compete in front of them. It’s usually on the TV or a live stream, so it’s like having some extra determination to impress just that little bit more!”
With 2017’s race set to be the toughest seen in recent years, Jones is hoping that he can use his local knowledge to aid his new JLT Condor teammates and their general classification goals when the Sun Tour heads for the mountains.
JLT Condor’s team leader, likely Ian Bibby or Steve Lampier, will be decided off the back of a gruelling Bendigo-based training camp starting early January. The UK-based squad has made a habit of using the fast and furious racing of the Australian summer to kick-start their annual ambitions and JLT Condor team manager John Herety says 2017 is no different.
“The Sun Tour has always had a high calibre of racing and each year it gets tougher,” he said. “It is a good opportunity for our stage race squad to get together early in the season and good performances will start our season off really well.”
Herety admits that his riders will have to chance their arm to make the biggest impact.
“Our aims this year will be to be in breakaway moves. We have powerful fast riders and we’ll be looking to finish fast on the flat days.”
Jones, along with his teammates will have to wait until the penultimate stage to configure their lead-out with the day the only other carrot on offer for the sprinters of the peloton.
The British team will have to keep something special in the tank after three days of racing through Australia’s alpine region in order to get Jones to the line first. The speedster willing that some of that imparted local knowledge will be repaid with a smooth and speedy delivery into the finish at Mitchelton Winery.
“I’m keen to finish strong into Nagambie, the stage should finish in a sprint and it’d be great to do well in that stage,” Jones said.
The 2017 Jayco Herald Sun Tour will be presented by Jayco and the Herald Sun, along with the continued support from the Victorian State Government.