• Chris Hamilton fresh off his u23 win at the 2016 Mars Cycling Australia National Road Championships will race for Team UniSA-Australia at the TDU (Kathryn Watt)Source: Kathryn Watt
Last year’s Team UniSA squad had a big impact on the Tour Down Under, winning the first stage with 2016 national road race champion Jack Bobridge and defending the Ochre jersey in the second stage.
Jamie Finch-Penninger

Cycling Central
11 Jan 2016 - 10:38 AM  UPDATED 11 Jan 2016 - 6:00 PM

Steele von Hoff added a win in the Stage 4 sprint finish, and Bobridge took the mountains jersey for good measure. The new team hopes to replicate that success in 2016 naming a strong squad fresh from strong performances at the Mars Cycling Australia National Road Championships.  

Five members of the seven man squad are from the Avanti IsoWhey Sports team who were rewarded for their nationals campain with the chance to show themselves against World Tour opposition. They will line up in the Tour Down Under with a team of diverse talents and paths to this point in their careers.

Steele von Hoff is fast becoming a consistent presence in the team with his second consecutive appearance after his stage victory in Mt Barker last year. While his nationals campaign fell well below his own expectations, he will no doubt be the team's main main man for the flatter stages.

Also returning is Neil van der Ploeg, who impressed last season as he rode in defence of Bobridge’s Ochre jersey. He had a forgettable nationals after crashing out in the criterium and did not finish the road race, but few will begrudge his spot. He can contribute to the team in various ways, especially his strength in a sprint and endurance at the pointy end of hard races.

Sean Lake surprised many with his third place in the nationals time trial behind World Tour heavyweights Rohan Dennis and Richie Porte. For those who witnessed his back to back Grafton to Inverell solo wins it is merely confirmation of his talent. The former rower started cycling a little over a year ago and already riding against World Tour opposition is something the powerfully built Lake did not expect.

In a race dominated by Bobridge’s heroics, Lane’s gritty ride for third was overshadowed in the reports but his strength and form was rewarded by the Team Uni-SA selectors. Back in Australia after a few overseas opportunities did not work out, Lane feels more confident with support at Avanti Isowhey Sports and is now showing signs of his earlier form.

Regarded as one of the most experienced riders and best road captains in the peloton, Pat Shaw hopes to be a dream teammate for his squad, and a nightmare for his opponents. His recent win at the Mitchelon Bay Cycling Classic, fourth in the nationals criterium and ninth in the road race yesterday shows he is in some of the best form of his career.

Chris Hamilton wins national under 23 road title
Chris Hamilton (Avanti IsoWhey Sports) won the Mars Cycling Australia under 23 national championship in a tight sprint finish.

Lucas Hamilton's selection comes after his second place in the men's under 23 road race where he played the role of chief attacker. The slight of frame rider is one of the strongest talents to come out of the Victorian Institute of Sport in recent years and boasts an impressive power to weight ratio.

Chris Hamilton - no relation - the man who pipped him for first, also comes with high recommendations. His teammates can’t wait to tell you how strong and versatile he is as an athlete. After dividing his attentions between mountain biking and the road last season, he now looks to focus entirely on his road career with a debut at the Tour Down Under an ideal place to start.

Maybe slightly hard done by are some of the more noteworthy omissions from the team, with Ben Dyball, Chris Harper, Alistair Donohoe and Michael Storer all hoping that they had done enough to secure a spot with eyecatching performances in the nationals.

Few would argue with the composition of the squad, although the five Avanti IsoWhey riders, and Steele Von Hoff’s strong connection with that squad do suggest a slight bias towards NRS champions.

UniSA TDU Squad
Steele von Hoff (Victoria / One Pro Cycling)
Neil van der Ploeg (Victoria / Avanti IsoWhey Sports Cycling Team)
Sean Lake (Victoria / Avanti IsoWhey Sports Cycling Team)
Pat Lane (Victoria / Avanti IsoWhey Sports Cycling Team)
Patrick Shaw (Victoria / Avanti IsoWhey Sports Cycling Team)
Chris Hamilton (Victoria / Avanti IsoWhey Sports Cycling Team)
Lucas Hamilton (Victoria / VIS)