We recently announced the exciting news that we will be hitting the Australian Jayco Herald Sun Tour in 2019 for the final weekend of racing and what will no doubt be a thrilling few days, including a brutal summit finish up Arthurs Seat.
The 5 day event, held from January 30-February 3rd is set to be a real spectacle with the likes of Richie Porte, a stellar Mitchelton-SCOTT line-up and other promising names of pro cycling set to battle it out for victory and join the highly prestigious race honour roll. Included are the names of; Chris Froome, Esteban Chaves, Sir Bradley Wiggins and our own Stuart O’Grady back in 2008.
The pro peloton will be no doubt be bringing their A games, using the race as final prep before jumping abroad for the European season. It will be no easy feat, with a hungry selection of young Australian talent also bringing their best, ready to perform and show it to the big guns – Expect some serious fireworks! 💥
Here, we had a chat with 2017 tour winner, Damien Howson on all things Herald Sun Tour and thoughts on what’s to come in 2019!
It was a huge accomplishment and a real stand-out career performance winning the overall tour back in 2017 – Were you expecting to and what did it mean?
It was a special win for me as my first in my professional team colours, but also it’s an iconic event in Australia with many world-class winners pre and post my win in 2017. It’s a race I have always seemed to do quite well in, finishing on the podium in the last 3 editions and a few other top 5’s prior to that.
Mitchelton-SCOTT have won the race 4 times in the last 5 editions, only beaten by Chris Froome in 2016. You’ll no doubt be returning to do the same – with yourself or a team mate? What are your personal aspirations for the 2019 Tour?
Yes it’s a race like all races throughout the season where the team tries to produce great results, but it’s also a home race in Australia which offers a lot of opportunity to newer and younger team members.
Do you think Richie Porte is going to be a real threat for the overall victory at the race? Who else do you think will be key contenders?
Of course – Richie is a rider able to win most races on the calendar and I’m sure he would like to start the season well and add his name to the honour roll, but we also have a strong team on the start-list with many guys hoping to be around the mark.
What Stage are you most looking forward to?
I think the race as a whole looks great; from one of my personal favourites of Arthurs Seat, to a city race in the heart of Melbourne that should be well perceived by the public.
And Stage you’re most dreading?!
I dont dread any stage – the weather is normally fantastic, the route is always creative and showcases Australia in both urban areas, but also the beautiful countryside.
Do you think a lot could change on the Arthurs Seat stage?
In the past, this climb has always proven a difference, but it’s only one difference that can be made on this climb – there are so many other ways the race can take shape beforehand.
With the European season just around the corner following the Herald Sun Tour – Is it used by yourself and other professionals as key preparation for the season abroad?
Yes, for sure the Sun-Tour offers a great exposure to racing with a more calm atmosphere. It’s nice to race the young Australians trying to make a name for themselves, but also other professionals with a similar approach for the year ahead.
What are your key goals and targets for the 2019 season?
I’m personally trying to have another strong and consistent season, with many of the worlds biggest races mixed in with others to deliver some results and/or utilise them as a stepping stones to support our leaders in the likes of Grand Tours.
Keen to join us for the final showdown and see Damien amongst other big names of the pro peloton battle it out for victory? Hosted by Australian cycling legend, Stuart O’Grady – you will ride/drive the official Arthurs Seat race loop, enjoy VIP hospitality at the summit finish line, entry into Ride Melbourne, a final stage on-course picnic, dinner with Stuey and more! Click here for further details.