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UniSA continues to punch above its weight at the Tour Down Under

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Steele von Hoff (UniSA-Australia) on the podium

Steele von Hoff (UniSA-Australia) on the podium (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Jack Bobridge (UniSA)

Jack Bobridge (UniSA) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/
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Steele von Hoff (UniSA-Australia) claims victory

Steele von Hoff (UniSA-Australia) claims victory (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)

In recent years at the Tour Down Under you could count on UniSA representation in the breakaways and success in the individual classifications but stage wins were harder to come by. Steele von Hoff's win into Mount Barker made it two out of four stages for the team which has also enjoyed two days in the ochre leader's jersey for two days.

The last stage win UniSA enjoyed was in 2012 when Will Clarke soloed to victory in Stirling which was the first stage win in five years for the team that has ridden the race since 2001.

On the eve of the 2015 edition of the race, the UniSA team was heralded as the strongest it had ever entered and the team is living up to its reputation. With a collection of riders that includes Olympic medallists, world championships and national champions, the individual palmarès of this year's riders speak for themselves but earning the respect of the WorldTour peloton is not that easy.

Jack Bobridge's stage one win and two days in the ochre jersey that followed went some way to proving the riders mettle up against the WorldTour teams while Jack Haig's climb into Paracombe, which elevated him to fifth on GC, was further evidence that this is a team which not only belongs at the race, but is making the race.

Von Hoff's first professional victory into Mount Barker ahead of WorldTour riders capped off another successful day as the team also reclaimed the KOM jersey via Bobridge.

"I think we're batting well above our average here: two stage wins, the ochre jersey for two days now," von Hoff said of the UniSA team. "This is fantastic, we've got such a good team here and good staff as well."

Team manager Dave Sanders explained after the race that there was only one rider he was concerned about so when Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin) found himself in a group four minutes in arrears to the peloton, there was only going to be one outcome.

"We believed it when we started," Sanders said. "We knew only Kittel could beat us, and when Kittel was gone, I said, 'Ok, matey, you're the fastest man here, show it.' It's a huge win for Steele. He needs it. He's a better bike rider than what he's given credit for."

Von Hoff will ride for the British NFTO Continental team in 2015 having been squeezed out in the Garmin-Sharp and Cannondale merger at the end of last year. Today's stage win was von Hoff's second of the month after he successfully defended his national criterium title in Ballarat and did no harm to his ambition of returning to the WorldTour in 2016.

"My goal is to get back into the World Tour," von Hoff added. "The merger between Cannondale and Garmin left me behind this time but this win today will help me to go back to the highest level."

With tomorrow's stage to Willunga Hill set to decide the overall classification and Sunday's city criterium to come, UniSA's don't look done at this year's race

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Zeb Woodpower is the Australian editor at Cyclingnews. Based in Sydney, Zeb provides an Australian perspective on the sport with articles ranging from the local to the global . He joined Cyclingnews in 2013.

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