It’s the race that is on every young Australian cyclist’s bucket list. Aside from the likes of the Tour de France or Paris-Roubaix, it is the race Aussie kids grow up watching, thinking ‘one day I will be there, racing on home soil in front of my home crowd’. It’s Australia’s longest running stage race: the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.
mobius BridgeLane will race line up against World Tour teams and Australia’s top talent in the five-day stage race. It has been a long three-year journey to get to the start line, that everyone involved in the team is very proud of. No one more so than mobius BridgeLane Team Manager and Owner, Tom Petty.
“It’s felt a bit like a love interest if we are honest, we really wanted to be at the Sun Tour. It’s Australian cycling history, and weirdly, it’s one of the first races I remember watching on TV,” reminisces Tom. “It was the Time Trial stage in 2008 where Stuey O’Grady won the stage and moved back into the yellow jersey. It was an unbelievable ride, but it was the first time I thought cycling was cool.”
“A 16km Time Trial… who would have thought!”
The Jayco Herald Sun Tour no longer features a 16km time trial. Instead, the race kicks off with a blistering fast 1.6km prologue, along the banks of the Yarra River, starting in the Alexandra Gardens in the heart of Melbourne. The prologue will be followed by 730.3km of intense racing over four days.
With World Tour teams Orica-Scott and Trek-Segafredo sending teams down under to compete, our young riders will get the opportunity to race against the likes of Esteban Chaves, who has confirmed the Jayco Herald Sun Tour will be his only Australian race. It is opportunities like these which Tom and everyone behind the team has been working so hard towards.
“The biggest credit goes to the work ethic and attitude of the riders for coming on the journey with me. As well as the people behind the scenes that let me talk through this stuff and offered balanced feedback; advisors like Guy and Jane (mobius) Markus (BridgeLane) and David (Aver). Guys like Warren Docker have been a massive help.”
“It has been a team effort with all the sponsors, I’ve said it before, but when you have sponsors that offer their expertise and time for you, it’s worth more than any financial investment.”
“We have earned it, it was a really challenging year last year, and it brought the boys together more. We had that moment where we just knew the goal we were working towards and the whole team never stopped pursuing that.”
The invitation to race the Jayco Herald Sun Tour next week proves the dedication behind the team even when the going gets tough and things do not quite go to plan.
“2017 was a continual learning process; we had some heated team meetings, we had guys that were frustrated and tired, we lost races on the last day of tours. But yeah, never once did we stop moving forward through those problems. The team is more united than ever, and we coined a bit of a term ‘mobi-mates’ out of it.”
Finishing third in the teams’ classification on the NRS in 2017, receiving a UCI Continental license and now this is a huge reward for the efforts put in by everyone.
“It’s like a classic love interest story. Of course, we wanted to be involved with the race, but we also didn’t want to show our hand too much or how much it would mean to our little team,” said Tom. “We will be out there as the underdogs in February, but we are relishing the challenge.”
The UCI 2.1 race course is the longest and hardest edition the organisers have put on. The infamous Arthurs Seat stage has been replaced with an absolutely brutal loop around Kinglake on the final stage.
The sprinters will have their day on stage one and two as the race heads west, starting in Colac with the peloton racing along the Great Ocean Road until finishing in Warrnambool 161.6km later. Stage two takes the riders from Warrnambool to Ballarat covering 198.6km.
The longest day of the race comes on the Queen Stage; the riders will cover 218km starting in Mitchelton Winery with a summit finish at Lake Mountain on a stage that is likely to decide the general classification. Not only does the Queen Stage finish with a brutal 20km climb with a 5% gradient, but it also features two 7-8 minute climbs along the way with average gradients of 4-6%.
If stage three wasn’t brutal enough for the peloton, the Jayco Herald Sun Tour has reintroduced the Kinglake circuit from 2016. For this edition, an extra lap has been added for a total distance of 152.1km, tackling the brutal climb five times.