The classic climb of Arthurs Seat on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula makes a welcome return to the route of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in 2019, having last featured in the race in 2016.
New race director Scott McGrory, who takes over from long-time director John Trevorrow for 2019, is ensuring that the riders will know all about how tough the climb is by increasing the number of times the race will go up it in February.
“This particular stage will include the riders travelling five times up Arthurs Seat,” said McGrory in a press release. “On previous occasions, it’s been three times, which has been tough enough, but five times… Well, the riders are going to be shocked when they hear that, and certainly more shocked when they’re riding up it.”
Spectators will have easy access to the top of Arthurs Seat thanks to the new Eagle gondola, which goes from the start of the climb in Dromana to the summit.
“It’ll be great for the public with the roads covered with spectators,” added McGrory, “with plenty of activity on the hairpin corners and a real festival of cycling at Arthurs Seat to showcase the best riders in the world.”
The stage that finished on the three-kilometre-long climb in 2016 was won by Team Sky’s Chris Froome, 17 seconds ahead of Damien Howson of Orica-Greenedge (now Mitchelton-Scott). The victory on what was the final stage of that year’s race was enough for Froome to take the overall race victory, having taken the leader’s jersey from teammate Peter Kennaugh.
Froome joined a long list of famous names to have won the Victoria-based stage race, whose past winners have also included Bradley Wiggins (2009), Simon Gerrans (2005, 2006) and Tim Johnson (2003), and, looking further back, outgoing race director Trevorrow (1975, 1977, 1979), Shane Sutton (1983) and Malcolm Elliott (1985).
Since Froome’s win in 2016, the race has been won by Howson and, last year, by his Mitchelton-Scott teammate Esteban Chaves.
Former Garmin-Sharp rider, and current member of the Bennelong SwissWellness team, Steele Von Hoff, grew up only 20 minutes away from Arthurs Seat, and therefore knows the roads around the Mornington Peninsula intimately.
“Nearly every Jayco Herald Sun Tour that I’ve been a part of has come up here, and I did really miss this climb last year,” said Von Hoff. “All my friends and family can come around here, the scenery is amazing, especially now that the Eagle chairlift is in. If you can jump on that and go down [up] there, you get a brilliant view down around the bay.
“It’s just a fantastic spot to hold a race,” he continued. “It’s going to be really cool to be back there.”
While Trevorrow is handing over the race directorship to McGrory, who won gold in the Madison at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, he’ll remain the race’s general manager, and will continue as the race director of the two-day Women’s Herald Sun Tour.
“I love this place [Arthurs Seat], and we’ve always had the biggest crowds. It’s almost like a mini Tour de France here, and I’m very excited to be back,” said Trevorrow. “Five times up here means this is going to be a seriously hard stage.”
The climb will host the finish of stage 4 of the 2019 race, which starts at Cape Schanck on the Mornington Peninsula, south of Melbourne, and takes place on Saturday, February 2.
It will be the penultimate stage of next year’s event, and the full route of the men’s five-day race will be unveiled later in November.