When Chris Hamilton beat Lucas Hamilton to the Australian U23 national road race title in January, he announced himself as prodigious road talent having started his cycling career as a mountain biker. By the end of the Australian summer, the Avanti IsoWhey Sports rider was well known after 14th place at the Tour Down Under, and eighth at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour where he also sealed the best young rider classification.
Giant-Alpecin recognised Hamilton's potential and has signed the Australian to the team for his first WorldTour contract. He will join compatriot Michael Matthews from 2017.
"It was a bit out of the blue, you always hope that someone out there notices the hard work and it was a big uplift as I was pretty down just getting back on the bike and I'd almost gotten to the point in the year that if you haven't heard anything, you start to put a lot of pressure on yourself for results," Hamilton told Cyclingnews of the deal. "Once they made contact, it was really humbling having someone notice what you've done and results and believe in you to be good enough to take that step."
After his successful summer, 21-year-old Hamilton headed to the Tour de Taiwan with Avanti where he finished seventh overall. He then got back on the mountain bike, finishing third at the Australian nationals. A training ride in early-April was ended early with a car taking Hamilton out and leaving him with cracked ribs, a bruised and semi collapsed lung, and a broken wrist.
Two months later and Hamilton was back on his bike with Avanti at the Tour of Japan to start his next block of racing. A handful of races in France and Belgium followed and it would in Europe that Hamilton's deal with Giant-Alpecin was sealed.
Giant-Alpecin's Australian sports director Luke Roberts helped broker the deal for Hamilton to join the team as he explained.
"I met with Luke Roberts, he came you our team house in Belgium and had a chat with me about the team, what they are about, what they were after and it seemed like that had a really positive outlook in developing young riders," said Hamilton.
While the offer from Giant-Alpecin was the only one forthcoming for Hamilton, despite his start to the season and list of results, it was the right deal.
"With he programme they run, you're never kept out of things. You're always told about things like training and coaching and the fact that I could still work with my coach Mark Fenner," he added of the attraction to Giant-Alpecin.
Having only made the transition to the road full time in 2016, following his mountain bike exploits, Hamilton will get further racing into his legs before his WorldTour debut at several NRS races in the second half of 2016. While illness kept him from racing the Tour of the Great South Coast, a race won by teammate Sam Chrome, Hamilton lined out at the Sam Miranda Tour of the King Valley with Joe Cooper winning the overall for Avanti IsoWhey. He will next be in action at the Tour of the Gippsland next week,
Avanti IsoWhey have won the NRS team title for the last four years and in doing so, provided the last four winners of the individual classification as well. Riding the final NRS events of the season would put Hamilton in with a chance for the win but explained his team first mentality. Something that he is likely to transfer across to Giant-Alpecin.
"It would be a pretty big deal but you have to look at as if as long as some one from our team wins then we all win it. I would like to win the NRS overall but I would be just as happy as someone else from the team won it," he said.
For the full guide to 2016-17 cycling transfers, click here.
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