Hamilton king of Italian mountain

ARARAT - Gun Ararat cyclist Tom Hamilton has tasted success in Italy with the Australian road cycling team.

Hamilton, competing with the Australian team in the lead up to the 2012 UCI Road World Championships, took out King of the Mountain in a recent race in Vertova, Italy.

Hamilton is over in Europe as an emergency to the national road team, but donned the Australian jersey and filled in while another team member was competing at the World Track Championships in New Zealand.

Hamilton's father Bruce said that while his son wasn't a part of the 'official team' being over in Europe and along for the ride was an experience in itself.

"Because he is not officially a part of the Australian team right now, only if someone gets injured or sick will he join the team, he can't ride every race with them," he said.

"They raced in Switzerland last weekend, while Tom raced in Flanders, so they keep him in reserve and keep him fit incase he gets the call up. It has been a real eye-opener for him and a great experience."

Hamilton is currently based in the Netherlands and is competing regularly with the Dutch team.

"He is going really well," Mr Hamilton said.

"He raced in Flanders last weekend and got sixth and to put that into perspective the fields he is in have about 190 riders in them.

"The AIS (Australian Instute of Sport) has a relationship with the Dutch team that allows him to compete with them, which is a really good setup. At the moment they have even given him a car to get around in."

Mr Hamilton said he had been communicating with his son every third night via Skype.

"He is staying in Oud Gastel in the Southern part of the Netherlands, only about an hour's drive from Flanders in Belgium," he said.

"Cycling in Flanders is like what AFL is like in Melbourne - Flanders is the heart of cycling.

"He landed in Northern Italy in mid-August and his first training ride went for nearly six hours. He had to take his passport with him because they almost went into Switzerland, they were riding all through the Swiss Alps."

Mr Hamilton said the locations and terrain Tom is competing on are fairly similar to that of the Tour de France.

The road racing includes steep inclines, riding on cobblestone surfaces, quick tempo and large fields.

"Cycling is everywhere over there and he is absolutely loving it," Mr Hamilton said.

"The bloke Tom is staying with use to be a top Dutch rider and he has been training with a Dutch time trial champion.

"We've had lots of positive support from the Ararat community, not just from the bike racing community but everyone. It is amazing the amount of people that are interested in how he is going."

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