We won’t see any of Team Sky’s riders racing for real in their swish new kit until the Tour Down Under begins in less than a fortnight’s time, but Chris Sutton has already given a sign that he’s starting the new season where he left off in 2009 by winning the Jayco Bay Criterium Series in and around Geelong, Victoria, this week.
Claiming the overall title in the four-race series had an extra significance for Sutton, whose father Gary won the inaugural edition of the race back in 1989.
The victory suggests that Sutton’s rich vein of form at the tail end of last season, when he took the opening stage of the Tour of Britain followed by three consecutive stages of the Jayco Herald SunTour back in Australia, has continued into the New Year.
Indeed, in that latter race, Sutton might well have taken the overall win had Garmin-Slipstream team mate Bradley Wiggins, who of course has followed the Australian to Team Sky, not put in a fantastic performance in the penultimate day’s time trial that put him in the race leader’s jersey, with Sutton finishing second overall.
Wiggins said afterwards that although Sutton had said after the time trial that the British rider should take the overall win, it was only with two laps to go on the final stage that the Garmin-Slipstream team finally decided to go with that plan rather than his Australian team-mate seeking to overhaul him by winning the final sprint.
With Sutton’s father having also won the Herald SunTour, as it then was, in 1984, and his uncle Shane having claimed victory in the race the previous year, it’s therefore natural that he may have had some unfinished family business on his mind going into this week’s races.
Sutton rode the Jayco Bay Criterium Series as a member of the composite Skilled-Lowe Farms Team, while Team Sky colleague, the New Zealander Greg Henderson, took part in Team Mazda colours.
Sutton finished third in the final day’s race in Williamstown behind his team leader for the week, Baden Cooke, who has joined Team Saxo Bank from Vaconsoleil, while Henderson came in second.
Both Henderson and Sutton participated in Team Sky’s high-profile launch in London on Monday by videolink from Australia. Earlier that day, the pair had finished one-two, the Kiwi taking the win, in the second of this week’s series of races, which also saw the return to competition of Katusha's Robbie McEwen following his crash in the Tour of Belgium last May.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.