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Froome to begin 2017 season Down Under

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2016 Rio Olympics - Cycling Road - Final - Men's Individual Time Trial - Pontal - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 10/08/2016. Chris Froome (GBR) of United Kingdom competes. REUTERS/Paul Hanna
2016 Rio Olympics - Cycling Road - Final - Men's Individual Time Trial - Pontal - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 10/08/2016. Chris Froome (GBR) of United Kingdom competes. REUTERS/Paul Hanna

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Three-times Tour de France champion Chris Froome will again begin his 2017 season in Australia, racing the UCI's World Tour event in Victoria before defending the Herald Sun title he won earlier this year.

The 31-year-old Briton, however, would not ride the Tour Down Under event in South Australia.

"I'm really looking forward to starting my season in Australia again," Froome said in a statement on Thursday.

"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.

"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."

The UCI World Tour event, which starts in Geelong, south-west of Melbourne, is a 174-km one-day race on Jan. 29.

The five-day Herald Sun tour, which races around northern Victoria, begins in central Melbourne with a prologue on Feb. 1.

Giro d'Italia runner-up Esteban Chaves from Colombia will also race both events. Chaves also finished third in the Tour of Spain this year.

"He (Froome) is obviously happy with how he did last season in winning the Herald Sun Tour and then winning the Tour de France, so maybe we can copy that," Chaves said.

"I have started training early, which is new for me. But the important thing is I'm super motivated, I'm happy to do it and I'll go 100 per cent."

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)


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