Team Sunweb's Australian first-year neo-pro Chris Hamilton will make his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a España later this month. The 21-year-old has impressed the team so far with the reward of a spot on the team's squad for the Spanish three-week race.
"The Vuelta wasn't on the initial programme but the team was so happy with the promise that I showed and how I handled the racing and extra racing that has been thrown in," Hamilton told Cyclingnews. "They figured that I am going to be able to handle this. That was a pretty big moment for me to get the call up for that. I am very stoked."
Hamilton's season has largely revolved around one-week WorldTour stage races from the Tour Down Under to Abu Dhabi Tour, Catalunya, País Vasco, California, Dauphiné and BinckBank Tour. Of the 12 races he has started, Hamilton has recorded just two DNFs with California, where he fell ill, the only stage race he had failed to finish thus far.
Despite going into the unknown in 2017, with his 42 race days well ahead of his longest season, Hamilton is firmly focused on finishing the Vuelta and arriving in Madrid on September 10.
"For sure I want to finish it. You want to finish any race you go into," he said. "It is daunting; I am not ashamed to say that. Everyone says the Vuelta is the best one to do for your first Grand Tour. I guess it is slightly more relaxed than the other two. I am obviously wanting to do my job best as I can and be there to support the entity of it. Pulling out of it is not in the plan for me. I want to be there for the whole thing."
Hailing from Bendigo, Victoria, Hamilton now resides in Girona, with Bendigonian native Jason Lowndes (Israel Cycling Academy) his roommate. With his prior exposure to racing under the Australian and Spanish sun, Hamilton is hoping he can handle the hot weather.
"Where I am in Girona, a lot of the time it is quite hot so that will be good for me to have the experience of riding in the heat. I already have that from living in Australia but the racing I usually a bit later in Spain," he said. "For sure, it will be a big help having lived here for the whole season even though there isn't a lot around this region."
While for some riders, the Vuelta often signals the end of their season, Hamilton's debut WorldTour season could well extend into October as he added.
"It will be pretty dependent on who I come out of it. Originally I was going to the Canadian one-day WorldTour races so it has gone from two races days to 21 race days," he said. "All being well and if I get through it ok and come out of it healthy, I'll do the one-day races in Italy in early October and that will be pretty much it for me."