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85th Giro d'Italia (GT)
Italy, May 11-June 2, 2002
Tyler Hamilton interview: American Flyer
Preface by Anthony Tan
Well that's certainly what the man from Marblehead, Massachusetts did less than 72 hours ago in the opening stage of the prologue of the Giro d'Italia - he took a flyer.
And after Christian Vandevelde's crash in last year's TDF, the combination of Americans on bikes, Grand Tours and paint just doesn't seem to mix.
Thankfully Tyler has come out of the nightmare start pretty much unscathed, apart from some bruises to his shoulders and morale. And 33 seconds off the pace isn't bad when Hamilton says he rode the remainder of the prologue "like a zombie, pushed all the wrong gears on the straightaways and rode into the finish cringing".
Being the true hard-man that he is, Tyler's already shrugged this unfortunate incident off, using the phrase often heard from the voice of Phil Liggett: "Tomorrow is yet another day."
After seven years with the Postal family and dedicating himself to Lance every three weeks in July for the last three seasons, Tyler's fans were wondering when he was going to "go it alone". And on the 28th of July last year, the penultimate day of the TDF, he made it official - Hamilton was off to CSC-Tiscali.
So far it looks like it's been a wise move. And if Bjarne Riis can manage to resurrect the career of a certain Frenchman named Jalabert after falling off a ladder, motivating Hamilton after his fall in the prologue should have been a piece of cake.
Whatever ensued, it appears the former TDF winner turned directeur sportif said something right.
It's clear Hamilton has great form coming into Italy's biggest race after yesterday's stage into Liege - a mostly solo effort to bridge across to the front group of 20 on the Cote de St. Nicolas, then still managing to finish fifth in the bunch gallop - trés impressionnant Monsieur Hamilton!
Interview by Gerard Knapp
CN: How do you feel your season has gone so far this year? How will you compensate to gain race fitness for not entering Romandie?
TH: My early season has not gone 100% according to plan. I was hoping to do between 25 and 30 days of racing before the start of the Giro, but my ongoing battle with allergies and pollen kept me from achieving that goal. That said, the decisions to not finish Setmana Catalana or start the Tour of Romandie were more strategic than disappointing. In both cases I was suffering from severe congestion that we feared could turn into something more serious if I raced in bad weather or pushed myself too hard when my body fighting the pollen. So instead of those days of racing, I concentrated on recovering and doing more intensive training at home (i.e., power intervals, and motor pacing).
CN: I presume you are the rider for overall GC in the Giro d'Italia - correct?
TH: Last August, Bjarne Riis and I sat down and started discussing my program for this year, and he recommended that I focus on riding the Giro. So, yes, the team has placed a lot of confidence in me and is counting on me to be the team leader here. It's a new role for me, but one I've looked forward to.
CN: How important is the Giro to you, in terms of your overall season?
TH: My main objectives for this year are the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France. Both are big races, so you sort of have to approach them one at a time. For right now, I'm concentrating heavily on the Giro and I'd like to place well overall in GC. But once this race is finished I'll be thinking seriously about the Tour de France. But the Tour de France will be a little different because we'll have three protected riders there with Laurent Jalabert, Carlos Sastre and me.
CN: How have you prepared for the Giro - have you covered any stages in particular during training? What are the critical stages that will determine the maglia rosa?
TH: I've seen all the climbing stages and mountain top finishes of this year's Giro course. I think the race will be won or lost in the final week. Stages 16 and 17 in the Dolomites are going to be tough and they are followed up by the final individual time trial the day before the finish.
CN: Who will be your directeur-sportif for the Giro?
TH: Bjarne Riis will be the first director for the Giro and will be assisted by Jorgen Marcussen.
CN: Who do you see as the main contenders for overall GC?
TH: I think Simoni, Garzelli, Frigo and Casagrande all have good chances. But of course, I'd like to think with good legs I could be among them in the final week. They say this year's race is wide open. We'll see.
CN: What do you do to relax during a race as big as the Giro d'Italia? Are you reading a book at the moment? If so, which one? Favourite CDs?
TH: Grand Tours are so hectic that you really don't have much down time. I usually get a lot of phone messages returned while on the massage table and then don't really have another second to myself until just before bed. Since time is at a premium I tend to read a lot of magazines. Articles are just the right length for my attention span when I'm tired. I stocked up on a ton of magazines before the start of the Giro ranging from Sports Illustrated to Outside to Men's Health. Basically I bought everything the newsstand had printed in English. I'm also a newspaper junkie. I always want to know how the Boston based sports teams are doing. Oh by the way, the Red Sox are in first place, three games ahead of the New York Yankees.
CN: Will you be riding the Tour de France or the Vuelta after the Giro?
TH: Just the Tour de France.