ARARAT cyclist Lucas Hamilton is ready to hit the road for the Australian cycling summer in front his home crowd as his team, Mitchelton-Scott, gets ready for the first world tour race of the year.
The first world tour race of the year started in South Australia with the five-day Tour Down Under, which began on January 15.
It visits towns across South Australia such as Adelaide, North Adelaide, Port Adelaide, Norwood, Angaston, Lobethal, Uraidla, Unley, Campbelltown, Glenelg, Strathalbyn, McLaren Vale and finishes up in Willunga Hill.
“Being an Aussie race, our team is here to do well so I’m looking forward to it,” Hamilton said.
“We won this race last year with (team member Daryl Impey) and we are fully supporting him.
“We are here to win, not to ride around.”
The Tour Down Under is one of many cycling events in Australia this month, with the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in Victoria all following in the calendar.
The Jayco Herald Sun Tour starts in Phillip Island on January 30 and travels through towns such as Wonthaggi, Churchill, Sale, Warragul, Cape Schanck, Arthurs Seat. It finishes in the Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens on February 3.
“All my family and friends are here, so it always makes it nicer racing in front of them instead of being in Europe,” Hamilton said.
“It’s nice here. You know the roads and you know the spectators.”
Hamilton spent his first professional season competing in Europe, Asia and America and wants to move into a more advanced role in some smaller races, although he admits he is still learning his trade.
“It’s always a progression when you step up to this level, so I just want to try … to take on more responsibility and more key roles in races with the team, and just try and keep heading the right trajectory,” he said.
One of his main goals is to have a starting role in some of the grand tours such as the Vuelta Espana, but he also said that he wants more influence around the smaller races this year.
“The race program is one that can change,” he said.
“I am looking forward to some of the small races that I have a leadership role in – for me those are my big goals also.”
Despite his own ambitions, Hamilton is a team player and wants the best outcome for the squad.
“We had a really good season last season so we are just looking to improve,” he said.
“We have some really big goals as a team so hopefully pull some of them off.
“We have proven we are genuine general classification contenders for those big three-week races.
“I think we will be going for general classification in all those grand tours, as we have guys that can do it. That would be some of our big goals.”
The Mitchelton-Scott squad consists of 19 male riders with seven new members coming in for the season, including Italian Edoardo Affini, American Brent Bookwalter, Ethiopian Tsgabu Grmay, New Zealander Dion Smith, and fellow Australian riders Callum Scotson, Nick Schultz and Robert Stannard.
For the women’s team the squad consists of 10 riders with two new members coming in, including Dutch rider Moniek Tenniglo and Australian rider Grace Brown.