By Andrew Hood
Tyler Hamilton’s rough and tumble season is now officially over.
Pain in his right leg caused by a bloody fall in the second stage of the Tour of Holland on August 20 has turned out to be more than a deep bruise. An MRI taken Friday morning in Spain revealed a hairline fracture at the top of his right femur.
“I’ve been suffering since the Tour of Holland. I hit my hip really hard. I started training as soon as I could, but I haven’t been able to push the pedals. When I put pressure on my leg, it’s been painful,” Hamilton told VeloNews on Friday afternoon from his home in Girona.
Hamilton pulled out of the Dutch tour with deep cuts to his hand, which later required 15 stitches. But pain in his hip lingered, prompting the 32-year-old New Englander to seek medical help in both Denmark and Italy.
“I went to Denmark and x-rays didn’t show anything. I went to Italy two days ago to see a specialist, but I got an MRI this morning in Girona and there’s a fracture in my fight femur,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said he didn’t know how long he’d off the bike, but confirmed his 2003 racing season is over. He said he expects to be off of the bike for at least two weeks, but added that he will know more later Friday.
“I’m on crutches right now and I’m going to see someone later today,” Hamilton said. “The season is over. The plan was to get healthy and keep racing. But now I guess we’ll close up shop here in Girona and head back to the States.”
Hamilton made headlines around the world when he crashed in the first stage of the 2003 Tour de France, but continued on to finish despite fracturing his right collarbone. He won a stage and finished fourth overall, earning him new fans and admirers worldwide.
Last year he finished second in the Giro d’Italia despite racing with a broken shoulder. Earlier this season, Hamilton became the first American to win the Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic and then won the Tour of Romandie the following week.
Hamilton said he had been considering racing in the October world championships before falling in Holland. Instead, his season has been cut short for the second year in a row with injury. Last year, Hamilton broke his clavicle after he was “doored” while warming up for the GP Eddy Merckx.
“It’s another year when the season ends a little prematurely. It’s the second year in a row an accident has stopped the final month of racing,” he said. “After the Tour, I was training hard to keep the form high. I knew it would be hard to keep the form through the worlds. Ideally, I would have competed in the world’s, but since the crash, I haven’t been able to train.”
Vuelta organizers: No Cipo, no Domina Vacanze
News that world champion Mario Cipollini might skip the upcoming Vuelta a España isn’t sitting pretty with race organizer Unipublic.
Vuelta sport director Victor Cordero was quoted in the Spanish newspaper Marca telling Cipollini’s Domina Vacanze team to stay in Italy if Super Mario isn’t up to the task: “If Cipollini doesn’t come, don’t bother traveling to Gijón.”
Unipublic officials said they are considering inviting another team or starting the Vuelta with just 21 teams if Cipollini opts to skip the Vuelta, which starts in Gijón on September 6 and ends in Madrid on September 28.
Cipollini is expected to meet with Domina Vacanze staff over the weekend to decide whether he’ll start the Vuelta or instead prepare for the world championships from his home base in Tuscany.
Cipollini hasn’t raced since crashing out of the Giro d’Italia in May. Despite the less-than-stellar season, Cipollini is also expected to sign a one-year contract to race into the 2004 season with Domina Vacanze in the weekend reunion.
Hughes to quit cycling, focus on speed skating
Canadian Clara Hughes has decided to leave cycling and turn her focus to speed skating, according to reports on the Canadian wires.
“It was a difficult decision to leave cycling after so many wonderful years but I have pursued all my cycling dreams,” said Hughes, who recently won three medals at the Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. “I realize now I need to concentrate on speed skating full time to reach my goal of winning gold for Canada at 2006 Olympic Winter Games.”
Hughes, 30, became the first Canadian athlete to win a medal at both the Summer and Winter Games when she won a bronze in Salt Lake City in 2002. She was a double-bronze medalist in cycling at the 1996 Games in Atlanta.
Hughes competed in speed skating as a teenager but stopped for 10 years while pursuing cycling. Her career on the bike includes 18 national titles.
‘Pecha’ will race Vuelta
Spanish revelation José Antonio Pecharromán said he will start the Vuelta despite problems with his Paternina team, which hinted he might not be selected to race the season’s final grand tour.
Pecharromán said he hasn’t been able to train well enough to consider a run for the final podium. Instead, the winner of the Bicicleta Vasca and the Tour of Cataluyna will shoot for a stage-win.
“I haven’t been able to train to be at the level to fight for the final victory, but I hope to be able to fight for a stage victory,” Pecharromán told Marca.
Pecharromán has already penned a deal to join Quick Step for the 2004 season.