Team UniSA-Australia has put in a solid effort so far in the 2016 Santos Tour Down Under, with a King of the Mountain jersey and prime sprint win among the highlights.
Sean Lake took out the King of the Mountain jersey in Stage 1 from Prospect to Lyndoch, while Chris Hamilton won a prime sprint in the crowd-pleasing People’s Choice Classic on Sunday night.
The 2016 Santos Tour Down Under kicked off with the People’s Choice Classic on Sunday, with former Team UniSA-Australia rider Caleb Ewan sprinting his way through the finish line to claim victory.
UniSA young gun Chris Hamilton pulled away early to lead the race in the fifth lap and remained close to the leaders for almost half of the race.
The UniSA U-23 National Road Champion continued his breakaway all the way until the fifteenth lap, beating Laurens de Vreese (BEL) – AST to win the Europcar Prime Sprint.
Hamilton was later caught in the seventeenth lap after a fantastic effort to stay at the front despite reasonably warm temperatures.
With half the race to go, the sprinters edged their way to the front of the pack and slowly broke away.
Orica-GreenEDGE rider Caleb Ewan bided his time before bursting through the pack of sprinters and crossing the line ahead of Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA) – TFR.
Hamilton’s team mate Patrick Shaw finished tenth at the People’s Choice Classic.
The Hostworks Stage 1 began on Tuesday with Team UniSA-Australia rider Sean Lake finishing in the top 5 riders overall and winning the first King of the Mountain sprint of this year’s tour.
Lake managed to break away from the Peloton early on in the race, accompanied by Alexis Gougeard (FRA) – ALM and Martijn Keizer (NED) – TLJ.
The three leaders pushed the gap to two minutes and 12 seconds after 12km with the peloton nowhere in sight and Tea Tree Gully Hill only a few kilometres away.
It was a close call after the 3.5km climb as Lake held onto his lead, beating Keizer by a whisker, and assuring himself a spot on the podium.
The three riders up front kept the lead to a respectable margin for the majority of the stage, with Gougeard taking both sprints.
Lake powered through for the remainder of the stage as both Gougeard and Keizer dropped back to join the group.
The mighty Victorian led the riders into the home stretch before eventually falling back into the masses.
Overall it was a very positive day for Team UniSA as Lake earned some useful sprint bonus points, placing him fifth overall after day one.
Teammate Steele Von Hoff was another Team UniSA-Australia rider who made the headlines, finishing eighth at the Lyndoch finish line.
Team Manager Dave Sanders was very pleased with his riders after the first two days and heaped praise on Lake for his valiant effort in Stage 1.
“It was tough. Dust storms, heat. It was very windy,” Sanders said.
“We’ve come out of it with a jersey, a top 10 finish in the first stage and a top 10 finish overall.”
The team spent much of the second stage battling it out in the peloton with 24-year-old Victorian Patrick Lane clinching the second spot at the Subaru King of the Mountain Sprint just behind Manuele Boaro.
With one first and one second place finish at two King of the Mountains so far, the team is optimistic going into Stage 3.