Chasing hometown honours

ARARAT - Top cyclists from all over the state will converge on the David Blackie Velodrome this weekend for the 41st annual Ararat Classic Cycling Carnival.

For the past two years the carnival has proven extremely successful for local riders, with Ararat's Tom Hamilton the two time reigning 50 lap Aces scratch champion.

While Hamilton will miss the chance to complete a hat trick due to other cycling commitments, Hamilton's younger brother Lucas will be hoping to keep the title in the family.

Lucas finished fourth in the event last year and impressed many as he was the youngest rider in the feature race.

This year the 18-year-old heads into the 50 lap Aces race with plenty of form under his belt, having won a gold medal last weekend in the Junior Men's Madison final at the 2014 Subaru Cycling Australia Track National Championship in Adelaide.

Hamilton was paired with Matthew Ross for the event which consists of 120 laps with 30km sprints every 20 laps.

"We were hoping for a medal but to get gold, it's just really good. We are really happy," Hamilton said.

The final was the duo's first Madison race together. Hamilton wasn't part of the original team, however got the opportunity when Ross' partner suffered an injury following a crash.

Hamilton said the final featured a number of crashes, but the winning pair were able to avoid the carnage.

"We were pretty lucky...there wasn't one crash that we sort of got stuck behind," he said.

"Rossy with his experience helped me, when we were going to do a sling he helped me out, so we weren't too affected by the crashes we were pretty happy to stay clear of them.

"It is my first track national so to come home with a gold medal is pretty good."

Hamilton also returned from Adelaide with a fifth placing in the Points Race and a bronze medal in the Team Pursuit.

The Ararat cyclist is hoping to take advantage of his current form in tomorrow's local event.

Hamilton will be up against a strong field of cyclists from clubs across Victoria, including Ryan Cottrell (Northcote) who won the scratch event at the recent Wangaratta carnival and Chris Kennett (Hamilton) who is a multiple winner this season including at Bendigo and Horsham.

Hamilton will also compete against fellow Ararat cyclists Jaron Gardiner and Greg Hogan for hometown honours.

Gardiner is a former Junior World Champion and has been in impressive touch in recent months.

Ararat and District Cycling Club president Matt Argall said he is hoping the Aces title stays in Ararat.

“One of the highlights will be the fact we have so many talented young cyclists on show, Lucas Hamilton and Jaron Gardner especially,” he said.

“Lucas has just come back from the senior nationals in Adelaide where he collected gold, so he is in really good form.

“We also have Alice Culling who has been selected on the Victorian junior track team, so we really have the cream of the junior ranks on show for the locals to see.”

Despite tomorrow’s forecast of hot weather Mr Argall encouraged the community to drop into the David Blackie Velodrome and support one of Ararat’s premier sporting events.

“Cycling can often be a forgotten sport in a lot of ways,” Mr Argall said. 

“This carnival is a great opportunity for local kids to compete in front of their family and friends and really strut their stuff.

“I invite everyone to come along and see what the sport of track cycling is all about.”

● While unable to defend his 50 lap Aces scratch title at this weekend’s Ararat Classic Cycling Carnival, Tom Hamilton is more than content with his reason for missing.

The 20-year-old Ararat cyclist is currently competing in the Jayco-Herald Sun Tour this week after gaining selection in the Australian Under-23 National team.

After finishing in sixth place in the U23 Men’s Road Race at the Road National Championships at Ballarat last month, Hamilton was invited to be part of the KordaMentha Real Estate Team for the Jayco-Herald Sun Tour.

However due to a late withdrawal of another cyclist, Hamilton found himself promoted to the Australian U23 National team. 

The tour this year features the who’s who of Australian cycling including 2014 Australian Road Champion and Tour Down Under winner Simon Gerrans, along with current World U23 Road Champion Matej Mohoric and numerous other Australian and overseas national champions.

This is the first time the tour has been recognised as an International Cycling Union (UCI) road race and as such attracts UCI points which contribute to world rankings.

The event started in Melbourne on Wednesday before travelling to Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Nagambie and finishing at Arthurs Seat on Sunday.

After Wednesday’s first stage Hamilton was ranked 43rd overall and 13th in the under-23 category.

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