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Froome to start 2017 season at Herald Sun Tour

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Chris Froome will headline an all-star peloton at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in February as he plots his defence of Australia’s oldest stage race.

The three-time Tour de France champion has again chosen Australia as the launching pad for a new season, joining Team Sky for a February 1-5 event that has had its teeth sharpened.

Froome will also make his debut at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on January 29 in what will be his first competitive hit-out of the year.

But his commitment to the Herald Sun Tour puts him on an early-season collision course with Orica-BikeExchange pocket-rocket Esteban Chaves, with the pair set to battle over a revolutionised, climbing-heavy 624.2km course.

The Kenyan-born Brit is hoping history can repeat itself, with July’s Tour de France success coming after he saluted in February at the Herald Sun Tour.

“I love riding in Australia. The weather is great and the crowds always come out in force to support the riders. That makes it all the more enjoyable,” Froome told Herald Sun newspaper.

“It’s always tough racing and a really strong, competitive field — so it’s an ideal way for me to kick off my year. I took a similar approach last year and felt it was a great way to set up my season.

“We’ll be out with a strong squad and looking to get 2017 off to a winning start. I’m really looking forward to starting in Australia again.”