After seven years away from the event, and more than his fair share of heartbreak in Europe, one of Australia’s best stage racers returns for the nation’s oldest stage race the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.
Richie Porte will lead his new 2019 team TREK-SEGAFREDO over 600 kilometres of tough Victorian landscape, including the famous ascent at Arthurs Seat. The Tasmanian is looking to join the illustrious honour roll of winners including Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Simon Gerrans and Baden Cooke.
The soon to be 34 year-old exclusively telling the Herald Sun he is “there to win it.”.
“I did it in 2008 when Stuart O’Grady won and I did it in 2009 when Bradley Wiggins won, so it is a race to be taken seriously.
“The Herald Sun Tour is the one where the older guys like John Trevorrow and Graham McVilly all talk about it. You always hear the stories and it does have that prestige for an Aussie race.
“I’ve wanted to do it for years, but it just never really fit or I was riding for teams that weren’t going to do it. But next year with Trek it just worked.”
The 66th edition of the event will be a big component of a busy Australian summer for Porte, with Race Director Scott McGrory elated such a high calibre talent will be taking on a raft of WorldTour team riders, with teams to be announced shortly.
“Richie brings enormous experience to the race, and I’m sure the crowds will get out to support one of the best Australian cyclists of this generation. There are so many great vantage points to watch the Tour and no doubt plenty of fans will wish him well with his new team.”
The complete tour is across five days with the Lexus Of Blackburn Women’s Herald Sun Tour again showcasing the best female riders January 30-31 2019, with the men riding January 30 to February 3 2019.
Gippsland features strongly this year with the first stage (Jan 30) around the Phillip Island MotoGP circuit, before Wonthaggi and Churchill become the focus for stage 2.
Stage 3 is from Sale to Warragul, while the ‘queen stage’ at Stage 4 sees the riders go from Cape Schanck to Arthurs Seat.
Stage 5 will be around Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens, replicating parts of the 2006 Commonwealth games circuit, with plenty of fan-friendly spots to watch the title contenders.
Jayco Herald Sun Tour Race Director Scott McGrory outlines his thoughts on the course:
The 2019 course is truly spectacular and one of the best courses I think I have ever seen for this race so I’m really excited to see how the riders themselves like the course.
It has a real mix of stages that the fast riders can go for but also in terms of the overall classification – the winner will truly be a top class international cyclist because the climbing stages are very difficult.
It’s also very spectacular. Definitely at Phillip Island, we all know that place as we see it every year on TV with the MotoGP. And then when we go down into Gippsland which I believe is very underrated by the cyclists around the world just how beautiful and diverse Gippsland is. And the two stages we have through there are both spectacular – one quite difficult and hilly and the other geared towards the sprinters a little bit more but both of them will be fun to race.
And then we get to stage 4 at Arthurs Seat – which will be brutal. The winner of the stage will more than likely be the winner of the Tour overall but not necessarily the case. Starting at Cape Schanck and coming up to Arthurs Seat will really showcase the Mornington Peninsula.
It will be spectacular for the spectators, and it will be really difficult for the riders. From a spectators perspective, it will be better than anything in Australia in terms of cycling and getting up close to the riders in action.
We are bringing the race again into the Melbourne CBD, and race the final stage around the Botanic Gardens is also a fantastic spectator activation. It should be one for the sprinters but it could also be one for the opportunists.