WorldTour expertise and next-generation talent punctuate the UniSA-Australia women’s and men’s team selections for the 2019 Santos Tour Down Under.
The UniSA-Australia team provides a development opportunity for athletes who are on an upward trajectory in Cycling Australia’s performance pathway, or riders currently either not aligned with, or whose professional team is not contesting the Tour Down Under (TDU).
The seasoned and versatile Lauren Kitchen (from FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) will spearhead the line-up as the women’s team captain, with 2012 world championship silver medallist Rachel Neylan (Movistar) further bolstering the team’s knowledge and expertise to mentor the other riders. Both were part of Team UniSA-Australia in 2018.
Kitchen says she likes working with the younger riders and trying to get the most out of them.
“I think I have progressed in this area professionally in the last few years with my FDJ team, so I look forward to the opportunity with UniSA-Australia for the Santos TDU,” Kitchen says.
The women’s team also includes Emily Roper (QLD), whose comeback continues to gain momentum following a solid 2018 domestic season which saw her finish second overall in the NRS General Classification. Former track world champion Rebecca Wiasak (ACT) continues her progression on the road with her 2018 season including several wins in the American circuit in addition to claiming the Australian national criterium crown.
NSW Institute of Sport and High Performance Network scholarship holder Josie Talbot (NSW) has enjoyed a strong season in the USA, and 2018 UCI World Road Championships junior women’s road race representative Anya Louw (TAS) who will line up in her first race against an international elite age field, add youthful firepower to the outfit.
Five of the seven riders in the men’s team were provided by the number one National Road Series (NRS) team, Team Bridgelane (formerly Bennelong SwissWellness), including Neil Van Der Ploeg (VIC) who brings a wealth of experience to the outfit as team captain in his third TDU.
Oceania champion and 2018 FedUni Road Nationals bronze medallist Chris Harper (SA) and 2018 Tour of Tasmania winner Dylan Sunderland (NSW) add climbing prowess.
All-rounders Ayden Toovey (NSW), who claimed two NRS Tours and finished third overall in the 2018 NRS, plus Jason Lea (VIC) who found the under 23 podium three times at Nationals and Oceania level in 2018, have been selected. The sixth member of the team is Nick White (VIC) who finished second overall in the 2018 National Road Series for Oliver's Real Food Racing.
The seventh and final member of the men’s team will be
announced following January’s
UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says the 2019 Santos Tour Down Under promises to be another great event on the SA sporting and cultural calendar.
“We have sponsored this event since 2001 and it just gets better every year,” Prof Lloyd says.
He says sponsoring the development teams at the tour offers young riders the chance to test and prove their abilities in a pro-tour event and to an international audience.
“And history shows many of the riders use this as a springboard to a career in professional cycling,” Prof Lloyd says.
“We want to wish them great success and let them know there are a crowd of Team UniSA-Australia supporters out there who will be cheering them on.”
Cycling Australia performance director Simon Jones says the men’s and women’s teams support the ongoing development of athletes.
“We know that the route to being a world class road rider takes time, persistence and patience,” Jones says. “Our framework for future success supports athletes and teams and this selection process supports our overall performance strategy.”
UniSA-Australia Women’s Team
Lauren Kitchen (NSW - FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope)
Anya Louw (TAS)
Rachel Neylan (SA - Movistar)
Emily Roper (QLD)
Josie Talbot (NSW)
Rebecca Wiasak (ACT)
UniSA-Australia Men’s Team
Chris Harper (SA)
Jason Lea (VIC)
Dylan Sunderland (NSW)
Ayden Toovey (NSW)
Neil Van der Ploeg (VIC)
Nick White (VIC)
The final member of the team will be announced following January’s FedUni Road Nationals.
The Santos Women's Tour Down Under starts on 10 January 2019 and is the opening professional women's race on the international cycling calendar. See the dates and stages on the TDU website.
This will be followed by the Santos Tour Down Under, which opens the 2019 UCI WorldTour with six official stages and the Down Under Classic on the streets of Adelaide. See the dates and stages on the TDU website.