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Road to 2016 Tour goes through Australia for Froome

The road back to the Tour de France goes through Australia for Chris Froome in 2016.

The Sky captain confirmed he will make his season debut at the 63rd Jayco Herald Sun Tour, slated for February 3-7.

“I’m really pleased to start my 2016 season at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour,” Froome said in a team release Monday. “Victoria is a beautiful part of the world and racing in the warm climate will give me a good platform for the new season. We don’t often get a chance to race in front of our Aussie fans, so we’re all looking forward to seeing them over there as well.”

Froome, 30, raced Australia’s oldest stage race in 2008, finishing fourth overall, when he was with Barloworld. He made his Tour de France debut that year — and finished 83rd overall — when the Jayco tour was held in October. The race has since moved to February, to slot in after the Santos Tour Down Under.

Froome has opened his past three seasons with victories, winning the Tour of Oman in 2013 and 2014, and beating Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) at the Ruta del Sol in February.

Froome will be especially ambitious in 2016, taking aim at his third yellow jersey as well as the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where he hopes to compete in both the road race and time trial. He’s also likely to race Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie, and the Critérium du Dauphiné.

Other top Tour de France favorites have already outlined their season debuts. Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana will race the Tour de San Luís in January, and Alberto Contador will head to the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal.