Hamilton, who will be making his Tour de France debut, has two Giro d’Italia starts to his name but after Yates targeted the Giro it’s now the 25-year-old’s turn to lead the Australian team in a Grand Tour.
Although he has not been a team leader over three weeks before, the position will give him a vital experience for the future while also dissipating the pressure on the debutant by targeting stage wins with proven winners.
“The Tour is the biggest race in the world and growing up I always watched and dreamed of racing the Tour and so to be lining up on Saturday, it can’t come quick enough,” Hamilton said.
“It’s my first Tour de France and also my first Grand Tour riding GC. I have only finished one Grand Tour, so for me I really want to continue with the progress I have made this season. I have done a lot of one-week races during the year and ridden GC at every race, so I feel like heading into a tough three-weeks of racing, I am as ready as I can be for the big stage.
“The team is full of super-strong guys and I have raced a lot with all of them, so I am looking forward to getting back into it with them and trying to make it a successful Tour.”
Yates, who will also turn his attention towards the Olympic Games road race in July, won two stages in the 2019 Tour and, depending on his form, could be in contention for a stage in the Alps or even before. He won a stage and finished third overall to Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) in the Giro d’Italia in May.
Esteban Chaves and Michael Matthews form a power group of riders who are ideally suited to aggressive racing.
Matthews, a former winner of the green points jersey, has three Tour de France stage wins to his name and is racing in BikeExchange colours at the Tour for the first time since 2016. The Australian is a possible candidate for a stage win and the yellow jersey in the opening stages.
“We have a really good shot at going for stage wins with myself and a lot of other guys in the team we have. We can go in with Chaves and Yates for the climbs and the breakaway days and then for me with the sprint and more intermediate sort of stages," Matthews said.
“There’s a couple of stages in this year’s Tour that suit me really well, especially in the first week. So, hopefully we can start the Tour off well on those days and then continue the momentum once we get to the climbs with the other guys.
“The Tour de France is always a special and important race for everyone, I am feeling in good shape and really motivated to try and go for a fourth Tour de France stage win."
The rest of the team comprises of Luke Durbridge, Amund Grøndahl Jansen, Chris Juul-Jensen and Luka Mezgec.
Head Sports Director, Matt White, said the assembled squad has both balance and strength.
He pinpointed the obvious strengths when it came to aggressive racing when it came to sending riders up the road in breaks but he also highlighted a reliable engine room with Durbridge, Grøndahl Jansen and Danish rider Juul-Jensen who comes into the Tour having completed the Giro d’Italia in May.
“We have assembled a very well-balanced unit for this year’s Tour de France. The group has multiple options as we go after stage wins across the entire three weeks," White said.
"We are welcoming Michael Matthews back into our Tour de France roster as we target selective sprints and medium mountain stages. In support of him, we have Luka Mezgec who was very impressive in his Tour debut last year and is capable of winning in his own right.
We have an engine room that is tried and tested with road captain Luke Durbridge working with our Scandinavian duo of Chris Juul-Jensen and Amund Grøndahl Jansen, who has plenty of experience in riding for world-class leaders."
“Then our elite climbing unit is led by Simon Yates who is looking to add more stage wins to his tally and Esteban Chaves who has won stages at both the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España and is aiming to add wins at the TDF to his resume. Finally, we have our only Tour de France debutant in Lucas Hamilton who has had a very consistent year so far and he will be getting our full support as he rides for GC.”
General Manager Brent Copeland acknowledged that the team’s goals were different when compared to those from May’s Giro d’Italia but he amplified White’s message regarding the depth of the team and their ambitions to target multiple stages.
“We are coming into this year’s Tour de France really motivated after a fantastic podium at Giro d’Italia with Simon Yates. We have worked closely together with our team owner Gerry Ryan and Team BikeExchange’s technical staff and coaches to select the most competitive line-up of riders for this year’s edition,” Copeland said.
"Our goals and ambitions are different to that of the recent Giro d'Italia where we will be mostly concentrated in two areas; namely stage wins and experience for the younger riders," he added.
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