News for June 17, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones
Giro finish fuels Hamilton's hopes for Tour de France
By Laurie Fullerton*
CSC-Tiscali's Tyler Hamilton is hoping that his recent second place in the Giro d'Italia is a sign of things to come for the Tour de France, where he could be one of the big challengers to his former teammate Lance Armstrong. The 29 year old has ridden in the Tour for Armstrong for the past three years, helping the Texan to three consecutive wins in the race.
"My results in the Giro have really helped my confidence in believing that I can be a contender in the Tour de France," Hamilton told Marblehead Reporter. "I really want to be a contender."
For Hamilton, the race was particularly tough as he had injured his shoulder in a fall during the 6th stage of the race.
"I spent the last 15 days of the Giro cycling with a fractured shoulder and torn tendons," said Hamilton. "But, I didn't want my competition knowing what was going on or how bad it was."
On paper, the three week long Giro is similar in difficulty to the Tour de France, especially the final week which had two hard days in the mountains (Stages 16-17) and a time trial (Stage 19). This year's Giro was 3,334 kilometres, with five uphill finishes including some very tough climbs in the Dolomites, and the race was not decided until the second last day.
When the Giro finished on June 2, Tyler was at the hospital the next day to get his shoulder checked thoroughly. His suspicions were confirmed that he had a bad injury.
"I have to say everybody I spoke to after the race, including the Italian doctors and staff at the hospital and the Italian press were impressed with my finish considering the injury," Hamilton said.
"Placing second at the Giro alone is a big result. Placing second with a fractured shoulder and torn tendon definitely impressed the Italians. They called me a fighter."
According to winner Savoldelli, Hamilton was the only thing on his mind during the final day of racing. "My only reference point was Hamilton," Savoldelli explained to the Italian press. "Every time the team car gave me my time, I said to myself he (Hamilton) should have gained more and more over me. It's getting tough for him, I just have to maintain this pace. Now, when I am (5 kilometres) from the finish line, when the route started to climb and I felt that I still could push onto my legs, I asked myself , 'And now what's he going to do?"
Hamilton also said that the supportive crowd gave him an overwhelming round of applause when he finished the race and treated him like something of a hero, even though they were, of course, rooting for the hometown hero.
"The final stage was a little nerve-wracking at the finish," wrote Hamilton of the last day of racing. "There were loads of sharp turns going left and right, over train tracks and patches of cobblestones. You really had to stay on your toes. Our mission was to keep the team up front and out of trouble. There wasn't a lot of time between me and third place, so a mishap could have had its consequences."
Hamilton said of his second-place finish that "although I went 'full gas' as they say over here, my best wasn't enough to pull off a miracle against Savoldelli. He was flying during the last week of this race, so I have to tip my hat to him. He's a super talent. I'm going to look forward to racing against him down the road. He has quite a fan club growing over here. They even have their own fight song for him. They're a rowdy bunch. But fun. They swarmed our team car after the time trial and each and everyone one of them insisted on shaking my hand. Pretty cool."
The fact that Hamilton was just one seat away from stealing the top trophy at Giro puts him into serious contention for the Tour de France. Currently, he is training in Colorado and resting his shoulder. He will need every ounce of energy to do well in the most grueling race in the sport of cycling.
While training for the Tour, Hamilton said he will be doing indoor riding to avoid the impact of the roads on his shoulder. He will have to wear an arm sling. It is estimated that an injury like his takes a month to heal. Hamilton doesn't exactly have a month before his biggest race.
"We have a great team," he added. "All of my teammates and I get along really well. As some people don't realize, cycling is a team sport. For me, I rode for three years with Lance Armstrong as a member of the team."
Now, Hamilton is the leader of the pack. He has to beat his former teammate Armstrong, as well as a very tough assembly of the best cyclists in the field, if he is to win the Tour de France.
"I have never ridden the Tour de France as a leader," he said. "I am not quite ready to say I can win it. "
*Laurie Fullerton is a journalist with the Marblehead Reporter, from Hamilton's home town of Marblehead, Mass.
Armstrong ambivalent about football
The winner of the Dauphiné Libéré and big favourite for the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong, has confessed that he "is not a big football fan", when asked about what he thinks of the upcoming 1/8 finals match between USA and Mexico. But he also admitted that "You have to watch it. Besides, you don't have the choice."
Unfortunately for the Dauphiné this is true, as the race was given only minimum coverage on French TV: 1 hour's live coverage of Stage 6 and a highlights package after Stage 7, in contrast to a number of other races broadcast throughout the year.
82nd Volta a Catalunya
The second of three Hors Categorie stage races in June is the 82nd Volta a Catalunya in Spain, the most important Tour de France preparation race for the Spanish teams, and a worthy race in its own right, second only to the Vuelta España in Spain. With a very mountainous parcours and two time trials, on paper it's as tough as its French and Swiss counterparts (Dauphine Libéré and Tour de Suisse).
The race starts with a 30 kilometre flat team time trial from Sant Jaume d'Enveja to Deltebre. This is followed by a 182 km stage from La Sènia to Les Borges Blanques, containing the Cat. 1 Alto de Prades with its summit at 35 km to go. Stage 3 is a 10.8 km mountain time trial from Sant Climent De Taüll (1450 m) to Boí Taüll (2030 m), followed by a very tough fourth stage from Barruera - Andorra (Estació De Pal). This stage contains three Cat. 1 climbs including the finish to the Pal ski station.
The fun doesn't stop there for the climbers, with the fifth stage from Andorra (La Farga Moles) to Llivia (141.1 km), also containing a Cat. 2 and two Cat. 1 climbs. Stages 6 and 7 should provide the sprinters with some rewards, as the climbing is significantly less in these stages.
The field is a strong one, with the likes of Alessio's Pietro Caucchioli, Euskaltel's David Etxebarria and Roberto Laiseka, iBanesto's climbing pair of Francisco Mancebo and Leonardo Piepoli, Jazztel's Gonzalo Bayarri, Lampre's Raimondas Rumsas and Juan-Manuel Garate, Lotto-Adecco's Rik Verbrugghe and Robbie McEwen, Mapei's Oscar Freire and Andrea Tafi, ONCE's Mikel Zarrabeitia, Relax-Fuenlabrada's Antonio Colom, Team Coast's Fernando Escartin and Aitor Garmendia, and US Postal's Roberto Heras and George Hincapie.
Alessio, Cofidis, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Fassa Bortolo, iBanesto.com, Itera, Jazztel-Costa de Almeria, Kelme-Costa Blanca, Lampre-Daikin, Lotto-Adecco, Mapei-Quick Step, ONCE-Eroski, Relax-Fuenlabrada, Team Coast, Telekom
Pantani to face disciplinary commission on Monday(?)
After two postponed hearings, Marco Pantani and his lawyer will finally get their chance to face the disciplinary commission of the Italian Cycling Federation on Monday, June 17. Pantani is accused of doping with insulin within the framework of the 2001 Giro d'Italia investigation, where an insulin syringe was allegedly found in his hotel room. If found guilty, he faces a penalty of up to one year, although a six month penalty was recently given to Stefano Zanini (Mapei) for a similar offence.
So far, 10 cyclists have been suspended for 4 to 6 months as a result of the Giro 2001 investigations headed by prosecutor Giacomo Aiello.
La Francaise Des Jeux to change names
French cycling team La Francaise Des Jeux will change its name to the much shorter "fdjeux.com" as of July 1. The sponsor is a French gaming organisation which has the results and prizes of the latest Lotto, Keno etc. games on its website. Directeur sportif Marc Madiot said that "The name will change on the jersey, but the ownership will remain the same."
Autolelli team not allowed to start Baby Giro
As the 32nd Giro Ciclistico d'Italia Internazionale U26 (better known as the Baby Giro) got under way in Marsciano yesterday, one team was not present. The six members of the Polisportiva Autolelli team were prevented from starting the race by the Italian Cycling Federation after they failed to forward details of all their health files to the FCI before the race. The FCI issued a communiqué to this effect, stating that Autolelli will not be able to race until June 23.