New Zealand Continental team AvantiIsowhey have been rewarded for medalling in three elite men's events at the Australian national championships with five riders selected to race the Tour Down Under with the UniSA-Australian wildcard team. Former AvantiIsowhey rider Steele von Hoff has again been selected for the race while silver medallist in the Australian U23 men's road race, Lucas Hamilton completes the seven-rider Victorian team.
The UniSA-Australia team enjoyed its most successful Tour Down Under since first appearing at the race 16 years ago last year as Jack Bobridge won the opening stage to pull on the ochre jersey while von Hoff added a second stage win three days later. Bobridge also finished the race by winning the King of the Mountains classification.
Neil van der Ploeg is the only AvantiIsowhey rider to have previously ridden the Tour Down Under while signings Sean Lake and Pat Lane ensured their selection with bronze in the time trial and road race respectively. Having also won gold in the men's U23 road race with Chris Hamilton, the AvantiIsowhey riders will be looking to continue their successful start to the season.
"The team provides an exciting opportunity for a couple of brand new talents, like Sean Lake, back to back Grafton to Inverell champion and third at the nation time trial, and also to the two young Victorian Hamilton’s in Chris and Lucas, who dominated in the under 23 road race," said Kevin Tabotta, National Performance Director. "Last year’s TDU stage winner (Steele von Hoff) will be looking to replicate this in 2016, while Patrick Shaw and Neil van der Ploeg, both have lots of experience.
"Former AIS under 23 scholarship holder Pat Lane has matured over the past couple years into an promising elite talent and his result today, and the way he rode, proved has the ability to match himself with the world’s best," he added.
Dave Sanders will be the team manager and sports director at the race.
UniSA-Australian for the 2016 Tour Down Under: Steele von Hoff, Neil van der Ploeg, Sean Lake, Chris Hamilton, Pat Lane, Lucas Hamilton and Patrick Shaw.