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Froome to race new Melbourne cycle event

AAP logoAAP 13/12/2016 Roger Vaughan

The packed domestic summer road cycling calendar has a new race, with Chris Froome to headline the Australia Day event on Melbourne's Formula One circuit.

The Towards Zero Race Melbourne will lead into the January 28-29 Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road race weekend in and around Geelong.

Froome has confirmed he will start his campaign for a fourth Tour de France title by racing at the Evans men's race on January 29 and then the February 1-5 Herald Sun Tour.

Given his status, organisers will ensure he also competes in the Albert Park event.

Race Melbourne will feature the fields competing the following weekend in Geelong.

Adelaide's Tour Down Under has done the same since its 1999 inception, holding the Down Under Classic street race outside the CBD two days before the Tour itself starts.

Race Melbourne will be a kermesse, a circuit road race format that is popular in Europe.

The women's race in the morning will be 12 laps of the 5.3km grand prix circuit, for a race total of 63.6km.

The men will have 22 laps for a 116.6km race.

The pancake-flat circuit will not suit Froome, who is a renowned climber, and the two races will most likely end with bunch sprints.

Start Orica-Scott duo Simon Gerrans and Esteban Chavez are also confirmed for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Rd race and they are potential starters at Albert Park, along with the team's top sprinter Caleb Ewan.

Meanwhile, Cadel Evans race organisers have confirmed the event has attracted 13 of the 18 WorldTour teams.

The event has reached top-level WorldTour status after just two editions.

But under international rules, only 10 of the teams have to compete at the Cadel Evans race because it is new to the WorldTour circuit.

BMC, Cannondale-Drapac, Quick-Step Floors and Team Sunweb are among the top teams to commit to the Geelong race.

The Cadel Evans race field will also feature four pro continental teams and an Australian national team line-up of emerging riders.

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