Lucas Hamilton is set to reach new heights and lead his team's general classification charge on his Tour de France debut.
The former Ballarat Clarendon College student has two Giro d'Italia starts to his name but has never led Team BikeExchange before in a Grand Tour.
Hamilton was reflecting on a childhood dream come true ahead of the race starting this weekend.
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"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," he 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."
Hamilton enters the Tour on the back of a successful season to date.
The 25-year-old came fourth in the Paris-Nice back in March, which was followed by a 10th place finish in the Volta a Catalunya and an eight-place finish at the Tour de Romandie.
Hamilton most recently competed at the Tour de Suisse, where he was sixth overall and led the young rider classification before withdrawing with illness.
"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," Hamilton said.
"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."
Hamilton's GC role is a nod to his rising potential.
The Ararat native signed a new, extended contract at the end of last year, which saw him become one of his team's main men.
Hamilton's past Grand Tour showings have drawn mixed results.
In 2019, he finished the Giro d'Italia as the highest-ranked Australian in 25th and came seventh in the young rider classification.
Last year, he rose as high as 17th before his team withdrew a week into the race after a COVID breach.
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