• Pat and Pat... Patrick Lane (L) and Patrick Shaw of Avanti IsoWhey Sports, part of the UniSA-Australia team at the Tour Down Under.
While progression to racing at the highest level was a fait accompli for the likes of Caleb Ewan, Rohan Dennis and Michael Matthews, spare a thought for Patrick Lane and Patrick Shaw from the UniSA-Australia team at the Tour Down Under, writes Anthony Tan.
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Cycling Central
19 Jan 2016 - 8:38 PM  UPDATED 19 Jan 2016 - 8:48 PM

Lane is a product of the Australian Institute of Sport, serving with the team from 2010-12. In May of 2011, aged 20, he won the second stage of the Giro della Regione Friuli Venezia Giulia, beating Romain Bardet and Jay McCarthy (you've heard of them, right?), then, the following month, helped power his national outfit to a team time trial victory at the U23 Internationale Thüringen-Rundfahrt.

"It's a massive ask, though Lane is in career-best form and has clearly peaked."

A decade ago it might've been enough for the kid from Carlton, Victoria to snare a pro contract, or at least a stagiaire role. Nowadays, however, Australian road cycling is flush with precocity at the amateur level, and Lane's contemporaries included Dennis, Matthews, McCarthy, Luke Durbridge and Michael Hepburn.

Having left the AIS, he was desperate to make something of himself in the 2013 season - but now admits to two grave errors: first signing for Italian amateur outfit, Team Hoppla, with his friend Calvin Watson, then when that went pear-shaped, transferring to the Synergy Baku Cycling Project from July onwards, another inauspicious decision, which lasted just over a year. "They were just terrible moves for me," Lane said in a recent interview with the CyclingTips website. "I gave away maybe two years when I needed to be at my best."

Last year, in attempt to rediscover his passion for the sport, he chose to race on the African Wildlife Safaris Cycling Team - which has borne fruit with his move this season to Avanti IsoWhey Sports, a de-facto 'lost & found' home for riders who, for one reason or another, have fallen through the cracks, are late-bloomers, or have not met the criteria set by the AIS selectors.

Two Sundays back, Lane's ride in Buninyong at the national road championships, where he finished third behind Jack Bobridge and Cameron Meyer, is indicative of a man who has his head screwed back on, and is in a much better place.

Like so many on the team managed by Andrew Christie-Johnson, Lane, now 24, continues to think big: "That's always the dream, to be racing the big races in Europe. If I can do that, I'll be very happy."

A stage win at the Tour Down Under or at the upcoming Herald Sun Tour would go a long way to realising that ambition. It's a massive ask, though Lane is in career-best form and has clearly peaked for these two races.

Shaw, like Lane, is also a Victorian, but is from a different peer group of Australian cyclists.

Born 19 February 1986 in Ballarat, his road contemporaries included Zak Dempster, Nathan Earle, Steele Von Hoff and the now-retired William Walker. For more than a decade he's been a solid, if not outspoken, performer on the Australian domestic scene, and won the National Road Series (NRS) in 2010.

Funny thing was, the year he won the NRS, Shaw was thinking of hanging the wheels up - that was until he met Christie-Johnson and Steve Price from what was then called Genesys Wealth Advisers, now Avanti IsoWhey Sports. "Best cycling decision I ever made; unbelievable team to be part of on and off the bike," he said last year in an interview with Bicycling Australia magazine, having ridden five seasons with the team. (Shaw spent a season with Satalyst Giant Racing in 2014 before returning to the team last year.)

While Shaw did a stint in Europe as a member of the national junior team, and a further two seasons as an amateur in Italy, he didn't seem to have the same calling so many aspiring professionals do. He's always seemed more comfortable at home, now married with two young children, and together with working at the family bike shop in between races, mainly in Australia, he enjoys a work-life balance most WorldTour pros would envy.

He's since tried to retire twice more without any luck. Shaw - encouraged no less by his wife to keep going - simply loves it too much, and has earned his road captaincy role at Avanti IsoWhey that he wears with pride.

That's not to say he doesn't take opportunities himself - aptly demonstrated by the only non-Orica-GreenEDGE men's victory at this year's Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic, where he won arguably the hardest leg in Portarlington. "I want to say to all the youngsters out there, sometimes it takes 10 years to get a good win," he remarked afterwards.

Working in tandem with sport director Dave Sanders, Shaw will, once again, reprise his familiar role at the Tour Down Under, calling the shots within the seven-man UniSA-Australia outfit. And, as he's done in the past with Nathan Haas, Jack Haig, Nathan Earle and Patrick Bevin, if he can provide the strategic platform for a team-mate's success, or perhaps even his own, he'll consider it job done.