Cycling Australia have announced six of the seven riders who will represent Team UniSA-Australia at the 2019 Tour Down Under in January.
Jason Lea, Dylan Sutherland, Ayden Toovey, Neil Van der Ploeg, Nick White and Oceania road race champion Chris Harper will ride for the team, with a seventh rider to be named following the Australian national championships in early January.
Last week, Cycling Australia announced the UniSA-Australia line-up for the 2019 Santos Women's Tour Down Under, naming Lauren Kitchen, Anya Louw, Rachel Neylan, Emily Roper, Josie Talbot and Rebecca Wiasak, and will now eagerly await the team rosters for the other teams that they'll be up against at the women's event – January 10-13 – and the men's race, which runs from January 15-20, with the Down Under Classic on January 13.
UniSA – the University of South Australia, in Adelaide – has sponsored a men's team at the Tour Down Under since 2001, which was the third edition of the event, and has been part of the race ever since, even taking the overall title in 2004 through Patrick Jonker.
As of 2006, the Team UniSA-Australia squad has been the official Australian national team at the event, which over the years has provided young, up-and-coming Australian riders with the opportunity to compete against the world's best at the Tour Down Under, with many past team members going on to ride for WorldTour teams, including Richie Porte, Michael Matthews, Rohan Dennis, Alex Edmondson and Jack Haig.
The 2018 season saw the first women's UniSA-Australia team at the Tour Down Under, providing young Australians with the chance to compete on the world stage, as well as an opportunity for Australian riders whose pro teams aren't part of the event's line-up to compete at their home race.
"I'm ecstatic," said Oliver's Real Food Racing rider Nick White on the news of his selection. "This has been a race I have watched since I first started cycling, and up until a few weeks ago, I never thought it would be a reality that I would some day be able to ride it.
"I'm still pinching myself," continued White, who will join a number of his UniSA teammates at Australian Continental squad Team Bridgelane in 2019. "I aim to be able to help out the team wherever I can, and to try to make this the most successful UniSA team to date."
The University of Australia's vice chancellor, Professor David Lloyd, said on the Cycling Australia website that he is thrilled for the university to continue to be part of the Tour Down Under's story.
"We’re especially happy to be the sponsors of the Australian men's development team at the tour because it offers young riders the chance to test and prove their abilities in a WorldTour event and to an international audience," he said. "And history shows many of the riders use this as a springboard to a career in professional cycling."
Team UniSA-Australia men's squad for the 2019 Tour Down Under: Chris Harper, Jason Lea, Dylan Sutherland, Ayden Toovey, Neil Van der Ploeg, Nick White [seventh member TBC]