The Odessa Files

An interview with Tyler Hamilton

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Odessa Gunn

After a busy couple months in the US we're back in Spain, enduring the heat. Levi has been off racing, getting great results and firing up the legs for the Vuelta. I have been holding the fort for the most part.

We had some unexpected house guests of the human and animal kind . Fred Rodriguez and his fiancee Annie Linderoth stayed with us for a couple months since they got the Catalan translation of two weeks wrong. "Dos semana" actually means two months here in Spain, even though semana translates to "week". They bought a very cool place which was under construction for quite some time but now they're in and it looks great. They have been gone for 12 hours, 15 minutes and 36 seconds and I hardly miss them at all. I've been over to visit three times already and I think I found a sock that may be Fred's so I'll run over again tonight to drop it off... It was great to have them here especially since Levi was gone most of the time.

We were a team of three in the fight to save animals. We were just like Baywatch except fully clothed, and in Spain, and on scooters, and we were saving animals instead of people, and there was no water involved whatsoever.

Anyway, we nursed a pigeon that George and Fred witnessed crashing into a store window; a number of bats which my cat brought in (as gifts we suspect); and a litter of abandoned kittens, one of whom is still here. Dylan Casey named him Poncho and he is pretty much the cutest thing on the planet. We gave him a proper Spanish name since he is a local. Poncho Enrique Sylvester Iglesieus. His interests are toy mice and his favorite thing to do is eat smoked salmon by the pool.

Fred and Annie were up all night with me on more than one occasion tube feeding the pigeon, catching bats, and rounding up cats. They are great sports and would make great veterinarians.

Next Annie and I took a road trip to Milan to fetch some things of Fred's from near Lake Como. The trip was pretty exciting. We certainly did not approach it like men and if we do so in the future we will have no problems beating our best time. What could have been done in 18 hours took us approximately 75. We found some shopping along the way and made a scene in Monaco. I'm sure we made the local gossip column as the gypsies who caused a traffic jam in front of the Hotel de Paris.

We were amidst Royalty and paparazzi in front of the casino in our pea green modified rental car which was packed solid with pillows, garbage cans, clothing and electronics. Even the tour groups were showing us up and people were actually pointing and laughing. We got some of our own people watching in as we dined amongst the ultra wealthy in our flip flops and jeans. There were some interesting characters. One lady in particular arrived ten minutes after her lips and you should have seen the rest of her. Amazing what money will do. Hey, it's cool so long as she is happy! The full American contingent was here in Spain at one point or another over the past few weeks. Some with tired Tour legs, some with anxious Vuelta legs and others with heavily jet lagged legs. Oh, and one set of custom bionic legs (almost forgot Lance).

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Warming up
Photo: © Chad Latimer
I am here today to interview the owner of one set of these legs. One of the toughest guys and hardest workers in this year's Tour de France, not to mention one of the funniest guys around. Tyler Hamilton is without question one of a special breed. His character is stronger than his legs (if you can imagine) and he has a sharp wit that will never light up the room at the expense of others. We've had the pleasure to dine with Tyler and his wife Haven on a few occasions and it's always a great time. Of course we've also been known to hook up at the local ice cream joint late at night with our fellow brothers and sisters of the New World. Just so that you know, Tyler Hamilton does eat ice cream and still manages to look like muscles without skin. A testimony to hard training.

Haven will also attest to Tyler's intense training regime. They too recently moved into a beautiful new place in Spain and according to Haven, Tyler had little energy for lifting things. Annie and I ran into Haven as she was lifting bag after bag and box after box up the stairs to the new place after loading and unloading the car by herself. We took the opportunity to lament for a moment on life as a bike racer's wife. It's a type of role reversal. Any hard labor, household-type work will always fall onto the shoulders of the woman. Haven has a great sense of humor so we all have a good laugh and she's back to work.

Haven made the transition from full time career woman in Boston to life on the Mediterranean last year when she moved to Nice full-time with Tyler. She worked as an account supervisor for an ad agency in Boston for almost 10 years. She and Tyler make a great duo and seem to enjoy every second of life in Spain. Like I mentioned above, they keep us all entertained and we'll miss them when they head back to America in a few days.

Bio: Tyler Hamilton

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Warming down.
Photo: Jeff Jones/Cyclingnews

Born: March 1, 1971, Marblehead, USA
Nationality: American
Team: US Postal (CSC-Tiscali in 2002)
Pro Since: 1995

Career Teams

1995: Montgomery
US Postal 
1997: US Postal  
1998: US Postal
1999: US Postal
2000: US Postal 
2001: US Postal


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Dauphiné 2000
Photo: ©AFP
1995: Westfield Classic
1996: stage Rutas de America; Teleflex Toer & stage; Fitchburg-Longsjo Classic & stage; 2 stages Red River Classic
1997: MRC Sterling Classic; Killington Stage Race & stage
1998: Lincoln
1999: Danmark Rundt & stage
2000: Dauphiné Libéré & 2 stages; stage Ronde van Nederland

Major Honours

1995: 9th Redlands Classic; 2nd Nevada City Classic; 13th Ronde van Nederland; 12th Tour of China
1996: 6th Redlands Classic; 5th Tour d'Armorique; 4th US Chrono Championship; 2nd Invitational Classic; 7th US Pro Championship; 19th Ronde van Nederland
1997: 18th Setmana Catalana; 10th First Union G.P.
1998: 5th Redlands Classic; 9th Circuit de la Sarthe; 5th Prutour; 11th Invitational Classic; 18th First Union Classic; 29th US Pro Championship; 23th Tour de Luxembourg; 15th Volta a Catalunya
1999: 18th Vuelta a la Comunidad Valenciana; 27th Setmana Catalana; 5th Circuit de la Sarthe; 15th Dauphiné Libéré; 7th G.P. Eddy Merckx (with Marty Jemison)
2000: 9th Classique des Alpes; 4th Ronde van Nederland; 9th G.P. Eddy Merckx (with Christian Vandevelde); 5th G.P. des Nations

Palmares courtesy

Tyler Hamilton

This is what Tyler had to say about his recent switch to CSC-Tiscali and life in general as a pro.

OG: You've been with the US Postal Service for seven years. What motivated you to switch teams?

TH: It is a good opportunity for me. I have been with Postal for seven years now and sometimes it's good to shake things up. I spoke with Johan and Lance before I made the decision and they both agreed it was a good opportunity for me. It was nice to know they supported me, and Mark Gorski as well. I didn't feel as though I was leaving on bad terms.

OG: Would you say it's intimidating to make a move to a new team or exciting?

TH: Very exciting. Again, seven years on one team. seven great years that I would not change if I could, especially the last three. I learned a lot from Lance and from defending the yellow jersey in the Tour three times.

OG: You've competed in five Tours de France, three of them on the winning team. If you could choose one day as the most memorable which would it be?

TH: Man, that is tough. Probably for me in '98 before Lance. I got second in one of the TT stages of the Tour. Johnny Weltz was our director and he really believed in me. I got second behind Jan Ullrich in the Cortez TT. It was cool because most people were like, "Who's that guy?"

OG: You must have so many funny stories over the years from life on the road. Can you think of one incident in particular that comes to mind when reminiscing about your Postal family?

TH: After the '98 Tour we had a big dinner in Paris. From dinner they loaded us into a huge tour bus en route to the late night festivities. Mr. George Hincapie, Mr. Mark Gorski and I decided to tour Paris in style. We found a hatch that opened to the roof of the bus. So there we were going 50 or 60 miles per hour through the streets of Paris on the roof of a bus. It may not have been the smartest thing but it was a good time. A fun evening.

OG: Were you holding on to anything on the roof of the bus?

TH: No. Basically bus surfing.

OG: What are your main goals for next year?

TH: I'm looking forward to finishing off this season on a strong note. I'm looking forward to the San Francisco Grand Prix on September 9. For next year I'm looking forward to the opportunity to ride in a different role. The team has ambitions in Italy, so the Giro is a possibility for me.

OG: What do you like most about European living?

TH: [long pause] Hmmm... The coffee to go. Wait, no, they don't have that. [another long pause, then we both start to laugh] It's crazy. I first started living here in '97 and I was not very comfortable. Now I am. I'm headed back to the US now and I'm sad to go. In '97 I was literally counting down the days. It's hard to pick one thing but I enjoy it a lot more than I used to. I guess because here in Spain the people are so nice. They were bending over backwards to help Haven and me move into our new place.

OG: You are decorating a new home in Spain now. Does it mostly reflect your style or Haven's style?

TH: The pottery barn style. [laughs] Pretty mutual I guess. Haven did most of the hunting while I was training this spring. She gave me her top picks and we came to a mutual conclusion. It's a lot like our old home in Marblehead, Mass.

OG: Favorite vacation spot?

TH: Pretty crazy, but I have to say home(Massachusetts, US). We're away nine months of the year. While the European riders go home between races we go to our home away from home

OG: All time favorite band or artist?


OG: What motivates Tyler Hamilton to train for six hours on a cold rainy day?

TH: For the good days. There are more bad than good but when you have a good day in a race it makes all the pain worthwhile.

OG: All time favorite training ride?

TH: The peak to peak highway in Colorado. You've got to do it.