Giro d'Italia: Hamilton gives Mitchelton-Scott options in breakaway
First-time Grand Tour racer places fourth on stage after late attack
Lucas Hamilton's stage 7 breakaway of the 2019 Giro d'Italia did not end triumphantly, but in a fraught finale, the young Mitchelton-Scott racer nonetheless showed clearly that he was both willing and able to punch above his weight in his Grand Tour debut.
Hamilton, 22, placed fourth in an arduous Giro d'Italia stage run at over 45kph and in which the day's main breakaway never gained more than two minutes.
His one final attack in the closing kilometres failed to work out. But Hamilton's presence had both kept the head on Mitchelton-Scott's rival teams, and given the Australian a chance to cross swords with highly-rated racers like Pello Bilbao (Astana Pro Team), who eventually claimed his 11th career win, and GC contender Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe).
"Everyone was just attacking from kilometre zero," Hamilton recounted later to a small group of reporters, including Cyclingnews.
"There was a little bit of concern there with [maglia rosa threat José Joaquín] Rojas (Movistar) and Formolo, but once we got 90 seconds or two minutes and we didn't push it any further, then the peloton was happy for us to keep going.
"We knew today would be a good one for the break, so then we made sure we were in every move and obviously the one I was in went all the way to the line."
"It puts other GC teams under pressure and we saw that when [teammate] Mikel [Nieve] was in the first break and Bahrain had to chase, so being up the road suited us."
The winner of Settimana Coppi e Bartali stage race earlier this season, Hamilton's latest bid for more success in Italy reached its crunch moment with an attack in the closing kilometres.
"The climbs on the stage didn't suit me so much, I prefer them to be a bit longer, so I tried early to get away and I hoped that maybe the break behind would give me a bit of margin," he said.
"But Formolo pretty much kept everyone together until Bilbao launched out with 1.5km to go, so I did my best and that's all you can ask."
From the moment Bilbao went, Hamilton said, the classic stalemate quickly developed in the chasing group, because "it was so close that everyone knew that whoever pulled they weren't going to win the stage.
"So Formolo pulled but I sat on there, but I didn't have the legs any more. But Bilbao rode super strong from the bottom to the top of that climb so there was not much we could really do."
As a Grand Tour debutant, Hamilton is clearly doing very well, but he recognises he is moving in a different racing dimension than before, saying: "The stages we've had are longer than I'm used to but we'll get there."
And in terms of Giro breakaways, at least, it would seem Hamilton's already well en route to achieving that.
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The Independent, The Guardian, ProCycling, The Express and Reuters.