From Verdun, France
By Tyler Hamilton, U.S. Postal Service Rider
The television coverage of today’s 210km stage from Huy to Verdun probably didn’t do justice to the level of racing going on. It doesn’t get much more difficult than a day like we had. Any way you slice it, working at the front all day at full speed is a hard day at the office.
An attack went at the 15 kilometer mark that included Vinokourov from Telekom so we made a point of chasing it down. If we let him get some time on the field he would have become one more rider we’d be forced to keep track of. And we don’t want to have to worry about him when the roads start slanting up. When the big break of the day reached the 10 minute point we went to work along with Once and Telekom to reel it in. By this time tomorrow we should be feeling like we’ve ridden back to back team time trials.
My elbow hurt more today than yesterday so I went back to the caravan to visit the medical car during the race. This is a vehicle that follows the peloton and treats riders while they’re on their bikes. They do anything they can to help — including re-bandaging your road rash while hanging out their car window going 30 miles an hour. They really are incredible. They also help respond to crashes. During my visit the docs sprayed my arm down with something that was icy cold and gave me a pain killer. The quick visit helped the aches go away but gave me a stomach ache.
Tomorrow is the much anticipated team time trial. Everyone gets a little nervous about an event like this because so much is riding on the strength of your fifth guy. And you never know what could happen. It’s important to get a good night sleep beforehand and not get too worked up about things. Nerves are your enemy in a TTT. We visited the course back in June to practice riding together and to work on our team formation. We put a little bit more time in prior to the start in Dunkirk finalizing the line up. It’s critical for the team to be as cohesive and prepared as possible for an event like this. And being that it’s not an event you see at many races, a team has to go out of its way to prepare.
My roommate, Steffen Kjaergaard will be ready since he has just the trick for helping him sleep at night. He brought his own down comforter to the Tour. Of course I was immediately jealous. But I try not to let it show. It’s okay that I’m sleeping under my germ infested, dirt covered standard issue polyester blend bed spread while Steffen is all curled up in Norwegian goose feathers. His subtle psychological warfare isn’t effecting me at all.
Actually Steffen had kind of a close call yesterday after the stage. He was doing an interview with a Norwegian television station and a jury car started to drive over his foot. He started screaming at them and they stopped. He probably could have handled the pain though — after all, his nickname is the “Viking”.
Thanks for reading. Tyler