Tyler Hamilton Diary

News & Results

07/6/2004| 0 comments
by Tyler Hamilton

Tyler Hamilton Diary

Tour de France: Stage 1-2.

Tour de France: Stage 1-2 <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>

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NAMUR, Belgium, July 5, 2004 :
The first few stages of the Tour de France are always kind of tough. They probably look easy on paper compared to the mountain stages of the
Pyrenees and the
Alps, but don't let the level terrain fool you.

There's no describing how nerve wracking the opening stages of the Tour are. For starters, there's a full field of nearly 200 guys all fired up about being at the year's biggest race. Add high speeds, rain, a bunch of crashes, spectators in the road, a good hard chase to reel in a break away and the madness that ensues before a field sprint, and you pretty much have the recipe for hard day at the office.

Stress is just as tough as any mountain pass. It'll leave you every bit as drained as riding a full day of vertical.

Yesterday's stage was nuts. If you saw the race on television then you already know the crowds were huge in some spots. And for some reason, there weren't barriers in every town like there usually are. This meant the folks on the side of the road were free to set up camps in the road while they waited for the race to come barreling through.

The peloton steam rolled through some towns looking more like a wall stretching straight across the road. As it charged forward fans were jumping back to get out of the way, seemingly one by one. People were literally springing from their lawn chairs at the very last second to run for safety leaving their picnics, blankets, cameras and whatever else behind as they did. I even saw one poor person in wheel chair get left behind as his companions darted for safer ground. It's a miracle no one got hurt.

Today the weather was a little more kind. Which was a welcome change after riding in the rain all day yesterday. The weather is funny in the north of
. It can be sunny, partly cloudy and raining all at the same time.

This morning was a bit of a personal adventure for me. A reporter from
joined us on our team but this who wanted to interview me. He started out by asking "in English, right?" I am known for only speaking English - especially since I've always ridden on teams who's primary language was English.

I told the reporter he could ask the questions in Spanish, but that I preferred to respond in English. But when he started interviewing me, I decided - what the heck, I'll give it a go in my Span-glish-ench. Why not? By the end, I had concluded my first all Spanish interview, which was a first for me. I'm not afraid to torture my teammates or the locals back in Girona with my Spanish, but this was the first time I was brave enough to bust out the language skills on television.

Spanish natives were probably suffering listening to me, but my teammates were impressed


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