ARARAT - Cyclist Tom Hamilton is gearing up to defend his elite men's 50-lap Aces scratch race victory at this year's Ararat Track Carnival.
The 19 year old has competed in a number of cycling tours over the last couple of months and continues to ride well.
At the beginning of 2013 he was apart of the Jayco VIS Apollo Team that competed in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.
The team Hamilton was a part of came second in the third stage and claimed victory overall.
"We were the last team to enter and we had one of the younger teams in the competition," he said.
"Five of the six riders were 25 or under.
"So to finish with that result showed we had a really good team."
The team had world class lead out man Julian Dean from New Zealand.Eighteen teams with a total of 176 riders took part in the prologue and three stage tour at the beginning of January.
Hamilton and Dean were joined by fellow Victorians Patrick Lane, Calvin Watson and Lachlan Norris as well as Sam Spokes from New South Wales.Stage one of the tour, Sunbury to Bendigo was the longest at 147.7 kilometres.
He said the team found the slow stages most difficult, with the flat and hot conditions as they rode into Bendigo proving most challenging.
"My role in the final stage was to sit at the front," Hamilton said.
"In the final stage we really took the race into our own hands, a couple of teams found the climb particularly difficult with the heat.
"We kept up the pressure on the teams that were out in front and were able to come away with a win in the tour."
Hamilton said the result was special.
"I was selected as part of a two year scholarship that developed young riders," he said.
"And the natural progression from that was to then compete in the Herald Sun tour.
"I have ended up a part of the tour and to be able to do so well was really important to me and a gratifying experience."
In the Road National Championships Road Race held in Ballarat Hamilton finished fourteenth in a time of three hours and 21 minutes.
Hamilton said it was a really open race."
I had the mindset going into the race to get the early break," he said.
"There were 24 of us to the front after the break and that ended up being the race winning break.
"A top ten finish would have been ideal but I dropped the pace.
"I didn't get the finish I would have liked due to the way I rode the race, it came down to my timing and when I dropped off."
In the lead up to the recent events Hamilton attended a number of training camps.
"We would be doing about a thousand kilometres over the week, but begin to taper back close to an event," he said.
"The camps are good, because everybody is different and they tailor to the individual."
Hamilton also attended an AIS selection camp in Adelaide in December and was coy about whether he might get a call up at any time during the year."
It is a really structured, very performance based program, so it all depends on how I go," he said.
Hamilton said in the months ahead he will first defend his local title at the Ararat Track Carnival before competing in the Oceania Road Championships in March, in Canberra.
"I'm really looking forward to racing at home, to have people you know watching you race, who wouldn't usually be able to due to the travel involved is really good," he said.
"I think the track carnival is really under-rated as one of Ararat's sporting events.
"I'll be going out primarily to enjoy myself, but also try my best."
The Ararat Track Carnival will showcase top riders from Victoria and interstate as they converge on the velodrome.
Other Ararat riders will take to the track including Jason Gardiner and Lucas Hamilton, with strong local representation in the junior divisions, and plenty of excitement for spectators.
The day will culminate in the 50 lap men's scratch race which Hamilton will seek to defend. See Friday's edition of the Ararat Advertiser for a preview of this year's Track Carnival.