Oceania Champion Lucas Hamilton (VIC) sprinted to second at the Giro del Belvedere, to claim his third podium finish in a row for the Australian Under 23 National Team, Monday April 17th.
“Of course you can’t be too disappointed with podiums in these types of races but I would really like to step up to that top step. I’m really looking forward to the upcoming races,” Hamilton said having finished second at Trofeo Edil C and third at Liege-Bastogne-Liege the last two weekends.
Having animated the final ascent of the Montaner climb attacking from a select group of 30 to lead solo over the top, Hamilton was joined by European Champion Alexandr Riabushenko and Matteo Fabbro in the final seven kilometres.
With the fast run in to the finish in Villa di Villa making it hard for anyone else to rejoin, the leading trio was left to fight out the victory with Riabushenko sprinting to the title ahead of Hamilton as Fabbro rounded out the podium.
“The final laps had a really tough climb and Michael [Storer], Jai [Hindley] and myself were right up there in the select group. I saw an opportunity to go and made a big effort over the climb.
“On the descent the three of us all joined up and we rode together to the finish but I knew Alexandr has a very good sprint so we made sure we didn’t get caught until 1km to go to secure a podium.
“The flat laps were pretty tough with people trying to create a breakaway all day and that made it really nervous and taxing with nothing being allowed to go.”
Michael Storer (WA) crossed in eighth giving the team two riders in the top 10 in another strong showing by the team. Hamilton also earned the GPM classification as best climber.
Earlier in the day the race left Villa di Villa for 11 laps of a mostly flat 12 kilometre circuit. Despite numerous attacks a ferocious pace of over 45 kilometres and hour for the first two hours meant that no move was able to build an advantage. With the pre race favourites looking towards the two hard finishing circuits.
Having completed 132 kilometres 150 riders hit the finishing circuit, containing the steep Montaner climb, with a maximum gradient of 20 percent for the first time at a quick tempo. With all five riders near the front at the start of the climb the team was well positioned for the attacks that followed.
As they summited the climb for the first time Abderrahim Zahiri (Unieuro), Nicolay Cherkasov (Rusvelo) & Edward Dunbar (Axeon Hagens Berman) held a small advantage but with a peloton of over 40 riders they were soon swept up on the descent.
The final time up the Montaner just 30 riders remained with Lucas Hamilton the first to make his move. Quickly distancing the group Hamilton flew over the top of the climb with a clear advantage.
Riabushenko and Fabbro would join the 21-year-old on the descent as the three combined forced to hold off the chase that contained Hindley and Storer.
The European season continues tomorrow at the G.P. Palio del Recioto, a race the team won with Caleb Ewan in 2013.
“Everyone today put in 100% with Sam [Jenner] and Rob [Stannard] trying to create and get in the early move and Jai and Michael riding really strong on the climb,” the Victorian said again praising the work of his teammates.
“Tomorrow I think we will see a super hard race and that suits us and everyone is looking forward to it.”