Lucas Hamilton will be heading from the Tour de France straight to the Olympic Games in Tokyo, with the 25-year-old Team BikeExchange rider selected to represent Australia after national road champion Cameron Meyer withdrew to spend time with his family as his father battles Stage 4 brain cancer.
Hamilton will be riding in the team spearheaded by Richie Porte – who last year stood on the podium of the Tour de France – alongside two-time time trial world champion Rohan Dennis and Jack Haig, unless the latter ends up being replaced following his withdrawal from the Tour de France with a broken collarbone on stage 3.
It will be a debut Olympics for the Victorian rider, who has taken a big step up this year, moving into a leadership role. Although the opportunity to take on the challenge of the General Classification at the Tour de France hasn’t gone to plan, after a crash that quashed that goal on the very first day, it has still been a year of successes for Hamilton.
He has already finished in the top ten overall at three WorldTour stage races in 2021, taking eighth at the Tour de Romandie, 10th at Volta a Catalunya, and fourth at Paris-Nice.
Hamilton is one of the group of young Australian riders who have stepped up in the last year, so there's no doubt that a number of candidates would have been vying for that much sought-after position.
Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroën Team), also 25, is currently successfully leading AG2R Citroën’s charge at the Tour, sitting in second place overall after a spectacular win on stage 9 while Jai Hindley took second place at the Giro d’Italia last year and Nick Schultz delivered with his support of Team BikeExchange leader Simon Yates at the Giro d’Italia before leaving with a fracture in his hand.
While no doubt securing the selection to compete in his first Olympics amid such tough competition will have been welcome news for Hamilton, the circumstances under which the vacancy came about are difficult, with Meyer also a teammate of Hamilton's at BikeExchange.
"To Cam and his family, we know it is a tough time, and you are in our thoughts," said Chef de Mission of the Australian Olympic Team Ian Chesterman as he also congratulated Hamilton on his selection.
Porte, who has for many years been Australia’s top climber, is likely to lead the charge for the Australian team in the road race, which qualified for four spots in the 234 kilometre elite men’s road race, one below the maximum.
The 36-year-old Tasmanian also competed in the Olympics at Rio in 2016 though crashed out in the road race. Dennis will also take on the time trial, where he came fifth in 2016 despite having to change bikes after his aero bars cracked.
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