Sean Lake’s Stage One King of the Mountain heroics highlighted another strong performance from Team UniSA-Australia at the 2016 Santos Tour Down Under.
The race offers an opportunity, each and every year, for emerging Australian cycling talent to test their mettle in the world of professional cycling – to learn, to take to the road with the best and see how they stack up.
Led by coach Dave Sanders, acknowledged as one of the best cycling development coaches in Australia, the team battled adversity, injuries, and even bee stings this year, showing flashes of brilliance and courage across the week.
“I am very proud of the boys,” Sanders said.
“This is a really young team but I think they showed talent, courage and commitment.”
“There is a lot of potential here – you will hear some of these names in years to come because there are some definite future stars in this group.”
Powerful Victorian, Sean Lake was in the spotlight early in the Tour, taking his turn in the breakaway for almost the entire stage, winning points in both sprints and taking the lead in the King of the Mountain.
For his efforts, Lake was thrilled to don the first polka dot KOM jersey, finishing ahead of Martijn Keizer, a strand of hair separating the two riders.
“I’m super stoked,” Lake said.
“It was a special day for me in front of the Aussie crowd. They were amazing.
“I am really proud to be wearing a jersey like this at a World Tour Event. It will take a while to sink in.”
Genuinely thrilled with the performance, Sanders said Lake battled some tough and hot conditions to win through.
“It got really windy, there were dust storms and heat, and it was not easy out there,” Sanders said.
“Everyone in the team has their job to do and Sean did his job exceptionally well.”
Lake finished fifth overall on the day with the added bonus points.
Across the Tour all the riders had moments in the sunshine.
Patrick Shaw won the second iiNet Sprint during Stage Four. He fought hard up the Norton Summit climb, a day after requiring medical attention after a nasty bee sting on his leg.
“I looked back and the field had sat up and were coming strong,” Shaw said.
“After that, you’ve signed the agreement and you’re out there for as long as it lasts.”
And the youngest rider at the Tour this year, Team UniSA’s 19-year-old Lucas Hamilton had his own moment of glory during the infamous Willunga Hill climb at Stage 5, making a dash to be third up and over amid competition from some of the best climbers on the international scene.
As the sun sets on another fantastic Santos Tour Down Under and 16 years of UniSA sponsorship of the event, we can’t help but smile as names like…Caleb Ewan, Rohan Dennis, Richie Porte, Jack Bobridge, and Simon Clarke…emerge as stars in international cycling – every one of them has ridden valiantly in the Team UniSA-Australia jersey.
To this year’s team thanks for your efforts – well done and we hope to see more of your in the cycling headlines in years to come.