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Monday’s Euro-file: Hamilton and Leipheimer on the mend; Simoni ready for Vuelta

CSC-Tiscali’s Tyler Hamilton said his season is over after breaking hisright collarbone and suffering two deep cuts in a bad crash during a trainingride Sunday before the GP Eddy Merckx time trial race in Belgium.Hamilton said he might have also suffered a mild concussion, something doctors checked for on Monday.“I look like bin Laden,” Hamilton told VeloNews on Monday justmoments after he left a hospital in Brussels where he underwent an MRI. “My arm’s in a sling. I have bandages. I look like bin Laden, but I’ll be okay.”Hamilton suffered a horrible crash Sunday while warming up on the

By Andrew Hood

CSC-Tiscali’s Tyler Hamilton said his season is over after breaking hisright collarbone and suffering two deep cuts in a bad crash during a trainingride Sunday before the GP Eddy Merckx time trial race in Belgium.Hamilton said he might have also suffered a mild concussion, something doctors checked for on Monday.“I look like bin Laden,” Hamilton told VeloNews on Monday justmoments after he left a hospital in Brussels where he underwent an MRI. “My arm’s in a sling. I have bandages. I look like bin Laden, but I’ll be okay.”Hamilton suffered a horrible crash Sunday while warming up on the GPEddy Merckx course outside Brussels with teammate Andrea Peron. The coursewas still open to traffic and a motorist opened their car-door into Hamilton’sleft side, sending him sprawling to the pavement.“Andrea and I were doing a lap on the course. A car passed us at a greenlight, slowed down and stopped, then boom!, the door opened right intothe side of me,” Hamilton said. “I didn’t have time to put my hands upor even slow down. The door opened into me and I had no time to react.It clipped my left leg and threw me to my right side. I went head firstdown on the pavement.”Hamilton was cut badly just above his left eye, slicing a small veinand causing him to lose a lot of blood. He also cut in his left quad andbroke his right collarbone.Hamilton was treated at a local hospital but spent the night in theteam hotel. He said he woke up early Monday feeling nauseous and returnedto the hospital for scans to see if he suffered a concussion.“I didn’t sleep much last night. This morning I woke up and felt kindof queasy and we worried I might have a slight concussion,” Hamilton said.The results of the scans will be revealed later this week and Hamiltonsaid he was hoping to fly home to his European base in Girona, Spain, laterMonday evening. Hamilton said he will also have his right shoulder diagnosedlater this week to determine whether or not it’s healing properly. He saidhe’s hoping he won’t need surgery.Hamilton’s season was winding down already, but he had planned to racea few more weeks in Belgium. This crash ends Hamilton’s season a few weeksearly.Hamilton enjoyed a successful season, winning a stage and finishingsecond overall at the 2002 Giro d’Italia despite crashing hard three timesduring the first week of the race.Ironically, Hamilton broke his left shoulder in the Giro, but finishedthe race not knowing the seriousness of the injury. “With both of these incidents, I feel like I have a bit of badluck. The crash at the Giro was a mishap with the wheel and here someonejust opens their door into me and I had no time to react,” Hamilton said,adding he still didn’t know how long he’ll be off the bike. “I’ll be OK.”Leipheimer recovering from surgery
Levi Leipheimer remains in a Dutch hospital Monday after recoveringfrom surgery on Friday to open blocked intestines. Leipheimer was racingin last week’s Tour of Holland when he began suffering abdominal painsafter completing Thursday’s time trial.Rabobank’s sport director Theo De Rooij told VeloNews on Mondaythat team doctors quickly decided to take him to a hospital where Leipheimerunderwent surgery Friday morning.“He’s still recovering in the hospital. At this moment, it’s not clearhow long he will stay there. It could be for several more days,” Van Rooysaid Monday. Van Rooy said Leipheimer had a similar surgery when he wasyoung and said the problems “had nothing to do with cycling or with hiscrashes.”Van Rooy said he didn’t know the details of the surgery, but said thedecision was quickly made to “clean up the blockage” and said doctors “almostimmediately decided to take action.” Leipheimer is in stable condition,but remains in the hospital for observation, Van Rooy said.Leipheimer also crashed in the Tour of Holland’s second stage when hehit a team car but luckily fell into a bed of flowers without sufferingserious injuries. Following the individual time trial last Thursday, VanRooy said Leipheimer was “feeling weak and sore. He was vomiting, feelingnauseous and had abdominal pains.”Van Rooy said this will likely be the end of Leipheimer’s season. Leipheimertold VeloNews in July that because Rabobank wasn’t racing at the Vueltaa Espana, he wasn’t planning on competing at the world championships.“We’ll have to see how it goes day to day, but this doesn’t have anydramatic changes in his program,” Van Rooy said. “The most important eventshave been taken care of already.”This week in Europe
The 2002 world mountain bike championships begin Wednesday and dominatethe Euro race scene this week. Kaprun, Austria, a longtime host of downhillevents, is hosting mountain biking’s top event this year. The action kicksoff Wednesday with the team relay event and continues through Sunday. Withthe season’s final grand tour looming next week with the Sept. 7 startof the 2002 Vuelta a Espana, it’s a relatively quiet week for the roadies.The three-day Trofeo dello Scalatore (three one-day races held Tuesdayto Thursday) will attract the top Italians.Simoni ready for Vuelta
Gilberto Simoni, winner of the 2001 Giro d’Italia, is being hyped asthe big threat to Spain’s hold on the 2002 Vuelta. He wasn’t originallyplanning on racing in the Vuelta this year, but his ejection from the Girofor doping allegations (later cleared) changed all that.“The Vuelta has become my main objective this year, after I didn’t racein the Giro or the Tour de France this year,” Simoni told the Spanish dailyAS.Simoni was forced by his Saeco team to leave the Giro after he testedpositive for cocaine, a case which later saw the forced departure of Saecofrom the Tour before the start of the race. In the end, Simoni lost histwo main objectives for the 2002 season. Later, Italian authorities determinedthat Simoni’s positive came from Peruvian candies that included coca leaves,so he was not sanctioned by Italian cycling officials.Now Simoni looks to the Vuelta to save his season. Simoni’s won twoVuelta mountain stages (Angliru in 2000 and Abantos in 2001) and promisesto be one of the top rivals to Spanish riders Oscar Sevilla (Kelme), AngelCasero (Coast) and Francesco Mancebo (iBanesto.com).