Bibby’s year gets off to a flying start in Australia

Ian Bibby in action at the Herald Sun Tour. Picture: Con Chronis/JLT Condor
Ian Bibby in action at the Herald Sun Tour. Picture: Con Chronis/JLT Condor
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Preston cyclist Ian Bibby has enjoyed a fine start to life with his new team.

The 30-year-old has switched to JLT Condor for 2017 and immediately impressed in two major races out in Australia.

He kicked off the year by becoming the first British rider to win the Mitchelton Bay Classic, a three-day event in Melbourne.

Bibby has also just finished the Herald Sun Tour where he rode strongly alongside three-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome to finish 11th overall, Froome coming home sixth in a race won by home favourite Damien Howson.

Former Our Lady’s High School Fulwood pupil Bibby was joined by new team mate James Gullen, from Lancaster, on the Herald Sun Tour.

Gullen’s role was largely to support his team mates during the race, dropping back to the team car, collecting food and chasing down attacks, as he came home 49th overall.

The team had flown out to Australia on Boxing Day, competing in three races as part of a warm weather training camp.

“It has been a hard race but a great week of racing and a fantastic six weeks in Australia,” said Bibby.

“We’ve all worked well together and we take home the yellow jersey from the Bay Classic too.”

Bibby had assumed a surprise leadership role in the Bay Classic after team mate Brenton Jones was involved in a crash on day one with pre-race favourite Caleb Ewan.

It allowed the Preston rider to take victory in Geelong before coming home second on day two to extend his lead.

The Preston rider took fourth on the final day in Williamstown to claim the series overall, becoming only the second non-Australian to win the men’s race at the event.

On Sunday’s final stage of the Herald Sun Tour Bibby remained alert to stay in contact with Froome as Team Sky attacked leader Howson.

Froome was unable to improve his placing in the general classification, finishing 1 minute and 12 seconds down on Howson with Bibby a further nine seconds back overall. The team are now building towards their schedule on home soil, the stage races beginning back in Britain next month.