Year 10 Rowing Coach Sean Lake at the Tour Down Under
St Catherine’s Year 10 rowing coach Sean Lake, hopes to raise the bar again in his bid for a professional cycling career
Lake coaches the Year 10 first quad scull at St Catherine's in Melbourne and rates his crew as a "hot shot" to win the Head of the Schoolgirls regatta on the first weekend of March.
Tour Down Under: Sean Lake hopes to raise bar again in bid for professional career
Published: January 18, 2016 – 8:13PM
Sean Lake has barely had time to absorb the trajectory that his cycling career has taken in the last two weeks, let alone in the last two years since he gave up rowing.
A former lightweight rower with the Melbourne Mercantile club, Lake, 24, once had his eyes on earning a seat in the Australian men’s lightweight coxless four for the Olympics – if not for Rio this year, then for the next Games in Tokyo in 2020.
But despite having raced in the under 23 world titles three times, the struggle of getting down to the 70kg weight he needed was, over time, too much of a test for his mind and body.
As the rowing flame dimmed, his passion for cycling grew while he and his crewmates rode up to 250km a week on top of the on-water training in the boat.
It was a little over two years ago that Lake, who now weighs a comfortable 77kg now and is 184cm tall, gave up rowing for cycling.
But even then, he had no inkling that by today he would be about to start in Australia’s only World Tour event, the Tour Down Under that starts on Tuesday and finishes on Sunday.
But that is where he has found himself is, as a member of the Uni SA-Australia national team that will mix it with 19 professional teams, of which 18 are World Tour.
Lake has impressed in his two years on the bike in the National Road Series. In 2014 and 2015, he even became the first rider to win the Grafton to Inverell back to back with the African Wildlife Safaris team and was then signed up by Avanti-IsoWhey.
But it was really at the recent Australian road championships in Buninyong where Lake, for two months coached by Mark Fenner, extended awareness of his potential beyond the NRS.
In the men’s elite time trial national title race, Lake finished third behind BMC teammates Rohan Dennis who won, and Richie Porte.
That result and his work for Avanti-IsoWhey in the men’s elite road race three days later sealed him his Uni SA-Australia selection – and with that an opportunity to showcase his talents on the world stage.
“Absolutely,” Lake said in Adelaide on Monday, the morning after he made his debut in the World Tour peloton that raced in the People’s Choice Classic criterium.
“The goal is to become professional and that is what I would like to do with my life.”
Lake has no regrets about his change of sports, and certainly does not miss the scales.
“Having no weigh-in in cycling is definitely a benefit. I stopped [rowing] because I was struggling to make lightweight,” said Lake, whose decision would cost him his Olympic rowing ambitions.
“That is what I was focused on in rowing – to get to the Olympics. That is where longevity became an issue.
“Although I believed I was a chance for Rio, it was 2020 where I had my opportunity in rowing, but I knew I wasn’t going to last that long.”
Does he miss rowing? No … well, sort of. “I don’t miss so much being in the boat, but I do a bit of coaching. It’s a bit nicer being on the other side of the megaphone,” said Lake.
Lake coaches the year 10 first quad scull at St Catherine’s in Melbourne and rates his crew as a “hot shot” to win the Head of the Schoolgirls regatta on the first weekend of March.
But first things first, there is his race at the Tour Down Under, an event in which the Uni SA-Australia team has never felt intimidated by the seasoned professionals.
“A few of the guys have said, ‘Show them all respect but absolutely [do] not fear them,'” Lake said.
“We will go out with that in mind and definitely take it too them by riders like me getting in the breaks and giving Steele [von Hoff] a lead out [for the sprints.]”
Tour Down Under
Tuesday: Stage 1 – Prospect to Lyndoch (130.8km)
Wednesday: Stage 2 – Unley to Stirling 132km
Thursday: Stage 3 – Glenelg to Campbelltown, 139km
Friday: Stage 4 – Norwood to Victor Harbor, 138km
Saturday: Stage 5 – McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill, 151.5km
Sunday: Stage 6 – Adelaide circuit race, 90km