There is an emphasis on youth for the 2017 Tour Down Under UniSA-Australia wildcard compared to previous years, with two 19-year-old's and four WorldTour debutants. In total, five of the youngest six riders in the race will be wearing the green and gold UniSA-Australia kit for the Tour Down Under.
Cam Meyer, the 2011 champion, and Nathan Earle are the two experienced men in the team. Due to his status as a former race winner with over half a decade of WorldTour racing under his belt, Meyer's presence in the team ensures a level of respect for UniSA-Australia, who are usually regarded as the whipping boys of the peloton.
Regularly animating the breakaways, this year's team features several riders capable of wining the young rider classification, and they will start with the sky as the limit for their ambitions. The young quintet aren't likely to take overall honours in 2017 but in the years to come will be riders to watch.
Cameron Meyer – 7th participation, best result, 1st 2011
The former Garmin, and GreenEdge rider came to a mutual decision with Dimension Data to end his contract early and step away from cycling mid-way through last year. A six-time world champion on the track, Meyer returned to the velodrome later in the year, explaining his re-found love of the sport.
A rider of immense talent, Meyer's place in the wildcard team was sealed after a strong showing at the Australian national championships. The 29-year-old will be hungry for a good showing to set up a strong 2017 season. Meyer knows the roads of Adelaide as well as anyone in the peloton and is known as one the craftier riders in the bunch. He will be a rider to keep an eye on across the week.
Nathan Earle – 3rd participation, best result 34th
Out of contract for 2017 until late December, Nathan Earle was looking at the end of his cycling career until he signed with Japanese Continental team UKYO. Explaining to Cyclingnews last year that this summer ‘would be make or break', Earle is in career best form, as he demonstrated at the national championships to earn Tour Down Under selection.
It will be Earle's first race for UniSA-Australia, with his role likely to be designed around the younger riders on the team and ensuring they make through the race while passing on his experience. Earle previously rode the Tour Down Under with Team Sky and Drapac, helping Richie Porte to fourth place and victory on Willunga Hill in 2014. The Tasmanian adds further experience to the squad.
Lucas Hamilton – second participation, best result 47th
Regarded as a future general classification rider, Lucas Hamilton has already accumulated several results, including the KOM jersey at the Tour de l'Avenir, during his brief career. On last year's final climb up Willunga Hill, Hamilton hit out early in an albeit unsuccessful bid for victory, but in doing so, hamilton announced himself to a global audience.
Hamilton's name will be known second time round at the Tour Down Under, but with a season of racing in Europe, he will also be better equipped for the World Tour race. He has also shown no signs of being intimidated by older and more experienced riders and will want to make every moment count at the race.
Callum Scotson – first participation
Two years ago, it was older brother Miles, and now national champion, who represented the Scotsons on the UniSA-Australia team. In 2017, it is Olympic games team pursuit silver medallist Callum who will be racing for the wildcard team. A time trialist with little experience of racing on the road, the 20-year-old is aiming to gain as much road experience as possible in 2017 with the Tour Down Under a possible baptism of fire.
With the course not overly suited to his characteristics, Scotson could find himself working for his teammates on the hillier days and given a chance to pursue his own personal ambitions via breakaways or mixing it up in the sprints. For a rider like Scotson, inclusion in the UniSA-Australia team is all about future development with no expectation for results. However, as previous riders have shown, that doesn't mean they won't start the full of ambition.
Michael Storer – first participation
Michael Storer makes his Tour Down Under and World Tour debut at 19, as did Peter Sagan back in 2010, having recorded top-20 results last summer as an 18-year-old at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, and Herald Sun Tour. Storer is another of the emerging young GC talents from Australia and like Hamilton, has shown no sign of intimidation during the elite races he has competed in at U23 level.
Storer explained to Cyclingnews late last year, that while keen to soak up the experience, he will still start the race with ambitions. His targets include the best young rider jersey and the stage finishes at Paracombe and Willunga Hill, which are both suited to his characteristics. With a start also secured for the Herald Sun Tour, Scotson will benefit from racing the Tour Down Under before the Victorian stage race later this month where Chris Froome and Esteban Chaves will also line out.
Jai Hindley – first participation
Western Australian Jai Hindley is another of the WorldTour academy riders selected for the Tour Down Under to make his WorldTour debut. Like Hamilton and Scotson, Hindley had an impressive first year racing U23 in Europe, enjoying victory in the one-day GP Capodarco and finishing fifth at the Tour de l'Avenir.
Slightly more suited to one-day racing and the shorter climbs than his teammates at this point in his stage, Hindley could find the Tour Down Under parcours to his liking. With UniSA-Australia likely to decide on its GC rider after stage 2, Hindley could emerge as the protected rider at the race. Speaking to Cyclingnews, Hindley explained that Tour Down Under selection would be a dream come true, and with his dream now reality, Hindley can focus on attention on making a good impression.
Sam Jenner – first participation
At 19, Jenner is the youngest rider in the 2017 Tour Down Under peloton. Like several of his teammates, the race marks his WorldTour debut and there will be zero expectation on results. Rather, Jenner has been selected as reward for his U23 Australian national title with a focus on soaking up as much as he can across the week of racing.
"I believe my strength is just really hard racing. The harder the race the better it is for me," Jenner said of his characteristics.
The 2016 season had several ups and downs for Jenner as he rode for much of the year on the U23 Australian WorldTour Academy team in Europe in a support role. Like a younger brother trying to match the feats of his older brother, Jenner proved himself to be on equal footing as his teammates during the national titles and will likely want to prove himself as more than just the youngest rider in the race.
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