Hamilton hanging tough
Special to the Post Independent
American Tyler Hamilton of the Danish CSC team continued to defy expectations and finished his second stage since cracking his collarbone in Sunday’s costly spill that also sent American podium favorite Levi Leipheimer home with a broken sit bone.
“Sometimes I was wondering if I’d finish with the front group, but I grit my teeth and kept going,” he said after finishing 43rd safely in the front group. “There’s pain all the time, all day. If it was a sharp pain, I’d have to reconsider. I tried not to think about the race today. I sang songs to myself to take my mind off the pain.”
Hamilton’s strength and determination have brought new optimism to his CSC team, which was built around pushing Hamilton toward the final podium when the Tour ends July 27 in Paris.
“I think he will hang on. It all depends on his position on the bike, but it’s going to be difficult. We are a team that sticks together. We will try our best,” said Team CSC manager Bjarne Riis, winner of the 1996 Tour. “Tyler was OK today. He was better than yesterday. He looked more comfortable on the bike, so that’s good for the team time trial.”
Hamilton admits the road ahead remains very difficult and said the next few days will decide his fate.
“We’re going to take some more X-rays on Thursday and see how it’s healing. If I can be patient, maybe I can come around,” Hamilton said. “If I hit the mountains and I’m not a factor, that’s when I’ll ask myself some questions. If I can continue to come back and be a factor, we’ll see. If I’m not, maybe I’ll stop racing and refocus on the Vuelta.”
Hamilton certainly is no stranger to shoulder injuries. En route to winning a stage and finishing second overall in last year’s Giro d’Italia, Hamilton crashed three times and finished the three-week stage-race with a fractured left shoulder.
Armstrong, meanwhile, had some nice words of encouragement for his former teammate.
“Tyler is a tough dude, he’s a fighter,” Reuters quoted Armstrong as saying before the start of the stage. “I dislocated my collarbone once and I didn’t want to get on my bike; but Tyler’s got a lot of ability to suffer. Yesterday the stage to Sedan wasn’t an easy day – especially if you don’t have complete control of the bike. I was riding along thinking, `man, how’s he doing it all taped up and in pain?’ I admire him a lot for having the courage to carry on. I knew he’d finish if he managed to start the stage, but that’s the kind of guy he is.”
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