Australia’s next generation of cycling talent came to the fore again this weekend as Mitchelton-SCOTT rider Lucas Hamilton secured the overall victory at the Tour of Alsace racing in the colours of the Australian National U23 team.
The team performed a near clean sweep at the five-day race with Hamilton winning the mountains and youth classifications along with the overall, the team also secured victory in the best team category.
Following excellent results and podium spots for Michael Storer at the Giro Valle d’Aosta and Jai Hindley and Hamilton at the Baby Giro in recent weeks the team have carried their form into the heart of the summer as the prestigious and important Tour de l’Avenir approaches.
A strong performance on stage two saw Hamilton claim second on the stage and take hold of the mountain’s jersey on the climb of La Planche des Belles Filles with Hindley and Storer also climbing strongly to finish in the top ten.
A display of team strength on stage three saw Hamilton move into the race lead as yet again Hindley and Storer also finished in the top twenty and the team prepared for an intense final stage.
An early breakaway slipped away and posing no threat to Hamilton’s lead, the move was allowed the rope to stay clear for most of the stage. With a flat sprint finish on the cards the race came back together within the final kilometre with Fabio Jakobsen (SEG-Racing) taking the win and Hamilton finishing safely in the field to seal the overall victory.
“It was a really hard five days of racing,” said Hamilton. “Firstly I have to thank the team who have been amazing throughout, the way they took the race to the competition was spectacular and we knew that Saturday’s stage in the mountains wasn’t suited to everyone and the guys rode hard from the start to put pressure on.”
“We controlled the race very well and once we moved into the race lead our performance was faultless, we communicated really well and raced as a unit. I’m so happy to have been able to pull off the win, I’ve had a lot of second places this year so to be able to finish it off and climb on to the top step of the podium is wonderful.”
Sport director James Victor praised the maturity of the team and the confidence they have developed after a series of strong performances throughout 2017.
“You dream about this kind of situation,” explained Victor. “And having a team strong enough and capable enough of pulling it off and the result is a real testament to the hard work the boys have been putting in. Lucas wasn’t even supposed to be doing this race after crashing out of Aosta, but he asked to come in to get more race days and he really performed well.”
“The rest of the team did a great job, both Michael and Jai had strong results of their own and once we moved into the race lead everyone rode intelligently and protected Lucas and the jersey.
“After the team’s performance on Saturday, riding hard from kilometre five and taking the race to the competition you could see that the whole field was suffering and nobody wanted to chase any of the moves down and that played perfectly into our favour.
“Lucas has grown into a very strong leader and he dealt well with the pressures of the leader’s jersey and communicated strongly with the team on the road. The boys have grown in stature and confidence and we can carry that into our next big objective at the Tour de l’Avenir in a couple of weeks time.”
Tour of Alsace final general classification:
1. Lucas Hamilton (Australia) 15:36:12
2. Carl Frederik Hagen (Team-Joker-Icopal) 00:00:09
3. Brandon McNulty (United-States) 00:00:20