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Froome headlines Victorian cycling races

AAP logoAAP 1/12/2016 Roger Vaughan

Three-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome will take on Colombian climbing sensation Esteban Chavez at next February's Herald Sun Tour.

Once Froome's entry was confirmed, race director John Trevorrow overhauled stage one so it ends with a hilltop finish at Falls Creek in the Victorian alpine country.

That is in anticipation of a duel between the two cycling stars.

"We were probably going to start the stage at Falls, but that made me change my opinion," Trevorrow said of the opening road stage in the February 1-5 race.

"You can't have two of the best climbers in the world - two of the most exciting climbers in the world - and not give them a platform to do their stuff.

"Falls is perfect because it's not as steep as Hotham or some of the other climbs around there, but it's a serious mountain, 20-odd kilometres."

Froome started this season by winning the Herald Sun Tour and he went on to his third Tour de France title.

Next year's schedule will only be slightly different, as the British ace will also compete in the February 29 Great Ocean Road Race.

"He went on to win the Tour de France with his preparation - why would he change that?," Trevorrow said of the Team Sky leader.

"I would have been surprised and very disappointed if he hadn't (returned), because of all the communications I had from the team, and some from Chris himself."

It means Froome is again not racing at the January 14-22 Tour Down Under in Adelaide, which is the first WorldTour race for the year.

Froome does not want the added pressure and Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur has said he respects the star's decision.

Chavez will compete at the Tour Down Under, where he will be among the favourites, and then take on Froome at the Herald Sun Tour.

The Colombian, a key rider for top Australian team Orica-BikeExchange, had top-three finishes this year at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana.

While Froome and Chavez will headline his race field, Trevorrow is adamant they will not have things their own way.

"I have a guy who believes he can beat both of them and win this," Trevorrow said, but offered no other details.

The Herald Sun Tour will once again start with a short Melbourne CBD prologue time trial.

But the pivotal last stage has moved from Arthurs Seat on the Mornington Peninsula to Kinglake, north of Melbourne.

The opening of the new chairlift at Arthurs Seat effectively forced the change.

The 120km Kinglake stage will feature four laps of a hilly 30km circuit and is also suited to climbers such as Froome and Chavez.

Froome secured the Tour title with a blistering ride on the at Arthurs Seat climb.

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