Sunweb ultimately placed eighth in the 14-kilometre uphill test that LottoNL-Jumbo won, putting Tour de France stage winner Primož Roglič at the top of the standings and setting the scene for a fight, with Quick-Step Floors circling and BMC also in the mix.
Hamilton sits one minute and six seconds in arrears of Roglic ahead of the sixth stage – a mountaintop finish again to Whinlatter that should further define if not decide the overall classification.
The 23-year-old has embarked on an eye-opening season campaign, supporting Tom Dumoulin to second overall at the Giro d’Italia and now leading the squad in Britain where he is aiming for a top 10 result.
“When you take a step back and actually look at what you’re doing, I’m on a team that is trying to win one of the biggest bike races in the world. It was a very cool experience,” Hamilton recalled of the Giro.
“It’s been really good, and I’ve been happy with my progress. Doing the Giro was pretty incredible and being able to be a part of that team. I really feel that I’m finding my feet in the WorldTour. Obviously signing a three-year deal, I can really settle in, take my time and work with the staff and trainers we have here.”
The UCI Road World Championships will be LIVE on SBS. Details TBA.
The Tour of Britain doubles as preparation for the upcoming UCI Road World Championships in which Hamilton will make his senior debut as a workhorse for Richie Porte in the elite men’s road race, on a course said to be one of the most difficult ever.
“The Tour of Britain has always been in the plan for me and Worlds definitely, that one you can’t plan for. It just so happens that I had this race on my program and, apart from doing the Vuelta, it’s really one of the best races you can do in preparation,” said Hamilton. “I think they do a good job designing this around how the Worlds is going to be; if it’s a flat Worlds they’ll make a flat Tour of Britain. They get a lot of good riders here because of that.”
Hamilton opened his second term with Sunweb at the Tour Down Under in January but still has four races remaining, up to and including the Giro di Lombardia next month. It’s a long spell but one he appears just as hungry and happy for now as then.
“If I’m still in good condition and can do the racing, I love doing it so may as well finish off the season well,” he said.