Rock Racing’s Tyler Hamilton Awarded Amgen Breakaway From Cancer Most Courageous Rider Jersey
Team Rock Racing's Tyler Hamilton has been awarded the Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Rider jersey following his aggressive day of riding during the mountainous Stage 4 of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California.
The jersey is awarded to the cyclist who best demonstrates courage, sacrifice, inspiration, determination and perseverance, the characteristics of those engaged in the fight against cancer.
Hamilton initiated a formidable break early on in the 188 kilometer race with Serge Pauwels (Cervélo TestTeam), Jason McCartney (Team Saxo Bank) and Rock Racing teammate Francisco Mancebo. After Mancebo dropped back, the three built a more than five-minute lead, only to be reeled in with two miles to go on the chalk-covered streets of downtown Clovis, Calif.
Hamilton is competing in his first Tour of California following a successful 2008 season that saw him earn the stars-and-stripes jersey at the USA Cycling national road championships following a nail-biting, photo finish. The 2004 Olympic gold medalist in the time trial said he saw an opportunity emerge while helping Mancebo go for mountain points on the first climb.
“It was my job to help Paco get the mountain points, so I didn’t really think about how far we still had to go at the time,” he said. “In a race like this, you take what you can get. I’m honored to be one of the winners of this jersey because I want to help inspire people. Not very many of us have the chance to do that.”
The jersey is of special significance to Hamilton, whose mother Lorna is battling Stage 2 breast cancer.
Commenting on Rock Racing’s objectives today, Hamilton told Roadcycling.com that “Our main objective for today was to protect the KOM jersey to make sure nobody dangerous got up the road. Jason (McCartney) was third in the KOM points overall, so he was up the road and I reached up to him. Later, I looked back and saw Mancebo coming up, so I waited and brought him up. I decided that if the breakaway was going to be successful, he was going to have to go back to the peloton because Astana wasn’t going to give us a break. We achieved our goal with Mancebo holding onto the KOM jersey, but unfortunately we couldn’t make the breakaway last.”
When asked for his reactions to todays stage, Hamilton said that “I am disappointed, really disappointed that we didn’t hang on in the end. Every kilometer I was out in that breakaway, I thought we were going to stay away. I knew the sprinters would put on a chase. McCartney was really strong and great to have in the race today. I just needed a couple extra kilometers.”
When asked to say more about his expectations in regards to the decisive time trial in Solvang, Hamilton told Roadcycling.com that “Speaking of the Solvang course, during training camp we previewed the course. It’s a great course - fast. For sure the strongest rider will win on Friday. The course is kind of flat on the way out with some hills on the way back. Typically, there is a lot of wind there. It’s a true, hard course and I expect the strongest man to win. A good time trialist is someone who can block out the pain; accept it. Somebody who has a big engine like Lance or Levi.”
“Astana is clearly the strongest ream in the mountains. It’s really going to come down to the time trial to really crack them. Sevilla has had some good rides, so we’ll just take it from there. The last two days are really difficult, especially Sunday. A lot of the general classification guys are waiting for the time trial to see if they can crack the Astana team.”
Commenting on the rumors about the demise of Team Rock Racing, Hamilton told Roadcycling.com that “There have been a lot of things said that weren’t really true. Media reported on a lot of things that wasn’t really the case. Just like everyone, with the economy, Michael Ball and Rock Racing has suffered like any big company, but he said from the beginning that his team was here to stay, and we’re still here and still fighting. As a team, we decided to make this work, to roll with the punches a little bit, to help keep this team afloat, and I think that was a smart decision on all of the rider’s parts. I’m happy to be here today, that’s for sure.”
“We’re around for this year, that’s for sure. I can tell you that there is no June deadline anymore. You just have to roll with the punches. Obviously with the team has endured some ups and downs, but life is a roller coaster, right? You just have to adjust every time. We obviously had to change gears a few times in the off season, but we’re still here and still fighting and I think the public is happy we’re around.”
Hamilton had the following comments about the Rock Racing kit “I don’t think it hurts that we are a little edgy. Michael Ball has always sort of looked outside of the cycling box, so to speak. There is an edgy look to our team and I think the public likes it.”
“I’m a modest person, so I don’t really need something big and flashy to announce that I’m the national champion. It’s a little subtle on the kit; our kit is already kind of busy, so we just wanted to keep it simple.”
Click here to check out our recent interview with Tyler Hamilton.