Hamilton goes with leaders once again and Australia top the team classificationSat 26 Aug 2017
Another strong team performance by the Mitchelton-SCOTT riders representing Australia at the Tour de l’Avenir saw Lucas Hamilton take fifth on the stage and maintain fourth overall.
The penultimate and hardest stage of the race again saw a selection of favourites form after the early attacks set the pace over the first climb.
A crash for Hamillton on the first descent thankfully resulted in no serious injury, but left the Tour of Alsace winner with work to do to regain contact.
A group of around 20riders formed the lading group with 40kilometres to go and attacks by Michael Storer followed by Jai Hindley forced splits as the Australian team sought to put race leader Egan Bernal (Columbia) under pressure.
In the end it was a small group that included Hamilton who contested the stage win, with Bernal running out the eventual winner and Hamilton in fifth and Storer in tenth to ensure that Australia still lead the team classification going into tomorrow’s last day.
“ We came here to race and to attack and we did that very well today,” said sport director James Victor. “The whole team did a fantastic job and we really showed our strength in depth over the climbs. Lucas had to use a lot of energy to regain contact after his early crash and that cost him a little in the finale.”
“Nevertheless I am very happy with how the boys performed, they are very committed to the job in hand and we couldn’t have done any more today. Bernal has shown over the last two stages that he is the strongest rider in the race and we repeatedly tried to put him under pressure today and shake things up.
“There is still one more day to go and it will be difficult, but I am confident that we can get Lucas into a position to challenge for the podium. We saw more of the GC contenders slip out of contention today and we have the motivation and the focus to go again tomorrow, also we have seen before in this race how everything can change on the last day.”
How it happened:
As anticipated the penultimate stage of this year’s Tour brought the action with early attacks marking an aggressive stage as one of the race favourites Pavel Sivakov (Russia) went clear in the early breakaway.
Gaining time over the splitting peloton Sivakov forged ahead with a select group of favourites forming the chasing group that included four riders for Australia, Hamilton, Storer, Hindley and Scotson out of eighteen.
Over the top of the second to last climb les Arcs and the favourites had both caught and passed the breakaway as Scotson started to lose contact, race leader Bernal was also in the front group, but alone and isolated with 40kilometres remaining.
On the approach to the final climb it was Storer that tried to ignite fresh fires with an attack out of the descent of Les Arcs and into the valley towards Sainte-Foy Tarentaise.
Tactics were coming to the fore in the finale, next up was Hindley who launched an attack with around eight kilometres left to race that upped the pace and spilt the lead group.
Down to six riders with three kilometres to go it was now down to Hamilton and as Bernal kicked the 21-year-old Australian didn’t disappoint, chasing down the Columbian alongside Niklas Eg (Denmark) to form a leading trio.
The trio swelled into the final as riders caught back on under the flame rouge, Bernal showed his prowess once again and accelerated clear for the win with Hamilton taking fifth and Storer in tenth.
Tour de l’Avenir stage eight results:
1. Egan Bernal (Columbia) 03:51:18
2. Bjorg Lambrecht (Belgium) ST
3. Niklas Eg (Denmark) +0:02
4. Lucas Hamilton (Australia) +0:18
General Classification after stage eight:
1. Egan Bernal (Columbia) 26:50:05
2. Bjorg Lambrecht (Belgium) +1:09
3. Niklas Eg (Denmark) +1:12
4. Lucas Hamilton (Australia) +1:28