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By Tyler Hamilton, Phonak Hear ing Systems Pro Cycling Team
June has been a little hectic. We started out the month in the Alps previewing the Tour de France climbs. Our training camp finished just in time for the challenging one day Classique des Alps race, which I decided to sit out, since I had done so much riding in the days proceeding. But it was a successful race for our team, with four Phonak guys in the top 10. My teammate Oscar Pereiro won, which was a big victory for the entire organization.
So we headed to the Dauphine Libere on a high note, which started a day later. My personal goal was to try and test myself as well as some new equipment in the prologue and in the time trial on Mt. Ventoux. Both outings went okay, and I was happy to see my form was where it needed to be, if not a little ahead of schedule. It’s difficult to come down off the spring season and then try and peak again for the Tour. Most guys don’t want to show up for the prologue with 100 percent of their firing power. It’s better to find the final percentage of your form during the race, since it’s so long. It makes sense to try and get stronger as the race progresses. Otherwise, you will be suffering by the final week. That’s my plan – 90-95 percent at the start and 100 percent by the last week. I’ll let you know how it goes.
This year’s Tour is almost two races. The first ten days and second ten days are totally different. With all the serious climbing stacked at the end of the race, the final stages promise to be a bit of a suffer-fest. There are a number of favorites given the way the course has been designed. So the race could be wide-open going into the final week. As a fan, I can’t remember ever looking forward to a Tour de France as much as I am this year. As I rider, well, lets just say, I’m glad most of my teeth are already capped. I think everyone entering the race this year knows they are going to be enduring a significant amount of pain. But I’m not going to dwell on that until I have to.
If you can’t make it to the race, but want to see some of the suffering live and on the big screen, the Tyler Hamilton Foundation, in conjunction with Regal Cinemedia and OLN will be hosting a live showing of Stage 13, which finishes atop Plateau de Beille in the Pyrenees. This should be a great stage to see, as it’s the most difficult mountain top finish prior to the Alps.
After the Dauphine I headed to Italy to ride, test, and motor pace with my coach. He’s a bit of a slave driver. Normally, when I’m motor pacing with my wife I just yell to her to go faster or slower depending on how I’m feeling. But Cecco is in charge of the pace when you ride behind him. He has an SRM monitor on his scooter that reads my data, so he can track exactly how I’m doing as we go. He can see my watts, speed, heart rate and cadence. So he knows when he has me at my limit, and he likes to keep me on the edge. He’s amazing. He can do six hours of motor pacing without blinking an eye. Although it would be safe to say by the end of one of our training rides, we’re both pretty worked. He’s dedicated beyond belief.
I returned home to Spain this week to a bit of a crisis. Our dog Tugboat has been a little under the weather lately, and had to spend most of last week in the veterinarian clinic. At the onset, it looked as though he had developed a reaction to an anti-inflammatory he was on for arthritis in his hips. But now, we are not sure. He has been bleeding internally and has lost over half of his blood, which is very scary. He seems to be getting better but is still not 100 percent. Tomorrow he’ll have to head in for an internal exam that will hopefully determine why he is so sick. We are keeping our fingers crossed the diagnosis will be stomach ulcers, which are very treatable and manageable. So it will be a stressful day around our house, especially since I’m scheduled to leave for the Tour later in the afternoon.
Our team is heading up north a couple of days early to ride the team time trial course together. It’s always important to do this one more time before the start. The team time trial can be a tricky event, so it’s good to get as much practice in as you can.
Our final team selection was a somewhat of a gut-wrenching affair. We had ten guys for nine spots. But then, this has been the case on almost every team I have ever ridden on. It always comes down to the wire, and a call has to be made. This year, Cyril Dessel was left off. Which was a very difficult decision for the directors to make. Cyril battled back from injury this spring to ride strong in the Alps camp, Classique des Alps, and the Dauphine. He even finished second in the French National Championships yesterday. He is a really talented guy, and I’m confident he’ll have many, many Tour de France rides in his future.
The Phonak roster includes: Oscar Sevilla, Oscar Pereiro (OP as we call him), Jose Gutierrez (Guti), Nicolas Jalabert (Nico), Martin Elminger, Santi Perez, Bert Grabsch and Santos Gonzalez.
So we’re almost there. It seems like a million details, issues and decisions have been thought through, examined, weighed and debated in the last couple of months. But what’s done is done. As I say every year, it’s time to take the test.
Thanks for reading.
Tyler Hamilton, a member of the Phonak Hearing systems professional cycling team, is a regular contributor to VeloNews and VeloNews.com. In addition to a thriving cycling career, Hamilton is also the founder of The TylerHamilton Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to provide opportunityand access for individuals affected by multiple sclerosis and aspiringyoung athletes with a passion for cycling.The Tyler Hamilton Foundation is the heart of professional cyclistTyler Hamilton. The Tyler Hamilton Foundation is dedicated to individualsdiagnosed with multiple sclerosis so that they may maintain a high qualityof life while dealing with the daily complications of this disease andto MS Research that is critical to finding a cure.The Tyler Hamilton Foundation is dedicated to paving the road foraspiring young cyclists who do not have the opportunities that were providedto Tyler as he began his career.