FEATURE: “The best part so far would have to be the team bus…..”Fri 27 Apr 2018
Mitchelton-SCOTT neo-pro Lucas Hamilton on the jump from racing at U23 level to mixing it with the big guns on the WorldTour.
After a stream of consistent success and impressive results at U23 level it was no surprise when Mitchelton-SCOTT announced the signing of 21-year-old Australian Hamilton for the 2018 season.
A strong climber and time-triallist, possessing all the ingredients and potential to be a future GC star, Hamilton came through the ranks at Cycling Australia before moving into the Mitchelton-SCOTT development team, Mitchelton-BikeExchange.
2017 proved to be a stand out season for Hamilton as he began by winning the Oceania Continental Championships road race before heading to Europe and sealing the overall at the Tour of Alsace, a stage and second overall at the Baby Giro d’Italia and fourth overall at the prestigious Tour de l’Avenir in France.
As a whole Mitchelton-BikeExchange performed exceptionally well in 2017, achieving 35-podiums in 41-international race days and cementing their reputation as development team of the highest pedigree with three riders all making the step up to the WorldTour as Jai Hindley and Michael Storer both followed Hamilton into the pro-ranks.
Although Hamilton’s transition from the outside appears to have been seamless, it’s important to consider the riders perspective and how things feel day to day.
“It doesn't feel quite seamless when I’m trying to keep up with these WorldTour guys,” began Hamilton. “But it’s a credit to the team for making the process as comfortable as possible for me and I think that has played the biggest part in adapting and settling in.”
“The best part so far would have to be the team bus...no seriously, I really enjoy the racing style and racing with all the guys and working as a team.
“I wouldn't say there is worst part, but the most difficult part is definitely just the new independence and responsibilities that come with being at this level on and off the bike.
“For example, making the transition from being mainly based in Australia then moving to Girona in Spain and going through the process of organising a European Visa, living arrangements and then on top of that training and eating well.
“It’s all the normal things people have to do at some point in their life, however this is just in a foreign country and the processes are different and I think it is all part of the challenge that will benefit me in the future and having the support network of the team is something I’m really thankful for.”
After enjoying many successes as a leader and protected rider at U23 level, is it difficult to adapt into a role of domestique for the WorldTour team?
“It's a very different role but I enjoy riding for the guys and makes it easier when you know they will give 100 percent and will most likely deliver.”
“It also gives me a great opportunity to see how the older guys in the team operate which gives me an insight into how a successful WorldTour rider operates.”
Hamilton’s performances through the early part of 2018 earned him a joint leadership role at the recent Coppi e Bartali stage race in Italy alongside former Danish champion Chris Juul Jensen.
Misfortune beset the team with mechanicals and an untethered dog hindering Hamilton’s chances of a podium, but the 21-year-old still managed to impress by finishing seventh overall and second in the youth classification.
“It was really good of the team to let me have some freedom at Coppi e Bartali and maybe without some bad luck I would have been able to pull off a podium either with a stage result or the GC, but I didn’t have any negative feelings about it.”
“I have plenty of goals left for the season. Racing at Flèche-Wallonne and riding in support for guys like Michael Albasini and Roman Kreuziger was great and especially with Roman’s fourth place in such a hard race. Next I head off to the Tour de Romandie followed by a little break from racing with a training camp in Andorra.”
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.