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Cycling Australia has selected a seven man UniSA-Australia team for the 2014 Santos Tour Down Under with its riders looking in top form after racing at last weekend's Australian National Road.
Headlining the team is Caleb Ewan, who won his second U23 national criterium crown last week as well as his first U23 road race. Ewan had a breakthrough year in 2013 with the Jayco-AIS World Tour Academy team, picking up seven wins in Europe and placing fourth in the under 23 road race at the UCI World Championship in Florence.
"I'm going there to race and I'll do the best that I can to get a result," Ewan said after his U23 road race win on Saturday. While Ewan has been labelled the next big thing, he said that until he competes against the top sprinters can such lofty terms be attributed to him.
"It's going to be hard for me being a UniSA rider not getting as much respect as [André] Greipel or [Marcel] Kittel will get. For the moment, it's all just for experience and hopefully in a few years or even next year, I'll be with GreenEdge there and have a proper team helping me," Ewan said.
Joining Caleb will be fellow Jayco-AIS WTA alumni Campbell Flakemore and Bradley Linfield. Completing the roster are Avanti Pro Cycling Team riders Jack Haig, Mark O'Brien, Anthony Giacoppo and Neil Van Der Ploeg. Haig was the overall winner of the 2013 National Road Series.
Cycling Australia, National Performance Director, Kevin Tabotta, says this is a fantastic opportunity for seven emerging young Australian riders to showcase their talents on the WorldTour stage.
"We've selected a mix of riders to target general classification (GC) and stage results and expect each of them to acquit themselves well against the world class field," he said. "We'll certainly be looking for Caleb Ewan to take the strong form he showed at the National Road Championships into the TDU and beyond this season."
University of South Australia Vice Chancellor, Professor David Lloyd says the University is proud to support this group of young riders. "We know that getting a ride with Team UniSA-Australia is a dream come true for many young riders and in the past 13 years many of the team's riders have gone onto success at the highest level," said Lloyd.
"Our TDU sponsorship is a great fit for UniSA – it brings the best of international talent to our community while showcasing our local environment to the world."
The UniSA-Australia team for the 2014 Santos Tour Down Under to be led by manager Dave Saunders includes: Caleb Ewan (Jayco AIS WorldTour Academy), Jack Haig (Avanti Pro Cycling Team), Mark O'Brien (Avanti Pro Cycling Team), Anthony Giacoppo (Avanti Pro Cycling Team), Neil Van Der Ploeg (Avanti Pro Cycling Team), Campbell Flakemore (Avanti Pro Cycling Team/ Jayco AIS WorldTour Academy) and Bradley Lindfield (Jayco AIS WorldTour Academy).