Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Tyler Tunes: A question of luck and timing

Luck plays a very important role in bike racing. When it's not on your side, it can wreak havoc on everything. It's my belief that today, bad luck cost CSC-Tiscali the victory in the team time trial and Laurent Jalabert the yellow jersey. We were leading the race through the first two time splits at 20km and40km. Then fate intervened, and Michael Sandstod flatted. Our team's radios weren't working well at that moment, and we didn't know what happened to him right away. So as he slowed to a stop, we powered on. And pulled away. Finally, Bjarne reached us over the radio and told us to slow

Don't miss a moment from Paris-Roubaix and Unbound Gravel, to the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a España, and everything in between when you join Outside+.

By Tyler Hamilton, CSC-Tiscali cycling team

Should we stay or should we go now?

Should we stay or should we go now?

Photo: AFP

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Luck plays a very important role in bike racing. When it’s not on your side, it can wreak havoc on everything. It’s my belief that today, bad luck cost CSC-Tiscali the victory in the team time trial and Laurent Jalabert the yellow jersey.

We were leading the race through the first two time splits at 20km and40km. Then fate intervened, and Michael Sandstod flatted. Our team’s radios weren’t working well at that moment, and we didn’t know what happened to him right away. So as he slowed to a stop, we powered on. And pulled away. Finally, Bjarne reached us over the radio and told us to slow down and wait for Michael. So we slowed. And waited.

We were too far ahead. Finally someone made the executive decision thatwe should get back up to speed. But the damage was done. We were nearlya minute down to ONCE at that point.We made up seven seconds in the final 10km, but it wasn’t enough to undothe deficit.

I hate to think of what might have been if Michael had caught back on or had never flatted. He’s super-talented at the team time trial given his track-racing and time-trialing experience. I think we could have done something special today.

Worse yet, it’s harder to accept that even if we had finished 15 seconds down to ONCE, Laurent would have been in yellow. It would have made my day to have seen him on the podium. Sometimes bike racing can be pretty frustrating.

In and of itself, the team time trial is often a nerve-wracking experience. A lot of times the guys who unite to form the Tour team haven’t raced together much before the start. Since every grand tour requires a mixed bag a talent, each team roster is usually formed by pulling guys from separate programs.

You’ll find teams are generallycomposed of a few riders who spend their spring season doing one-dayclassics, while the remaining guys come from the programs specializing in stage racing.

Under normal circumstances it doesn’t take long for a newly formed bunchto gel at the Tour. The pressure and atmosphere don’t allow you toforget where you are or what the challenge ahead will be like. Sinceit’s such serious business, and everyone knows what jobs they mustfulfill, each team usually clicks together without much effort. Thisalways amazes me. Here at my sixth Tour, I am racing with a couple ofguys I haven’t seen since training camp last December.

I think it’s a credit to a team’s leadership if a squad can pull together on a moment’s notice and get to work. That’s pretty much the scenario everyone is working under here at the Tour de France, since most team selections aren’t made until the eleventh hour. But, it’s these kind of circumstances that can lead to trouble on a day like today when the team is required to compete as one unit. If you are not mentally united off the bike, it’s tough to pull it together on the bike. Luckily, our team is part of that first group.

CSC-Tiscali wasn’t able to practice the team time trial until we allreported for duty here in France. In the days leading up to the race,when we were busy doing medical checkups and media presentations, wewere also preparing for today. We found enough time between commitmentsto practice our TTT formation on three different occasions. Figuring outthe lineup is a challenge in itself. Trying to designate the order inwhich the riders should rotate through is a bit of a chess game. We chose to spread out our time-trialing strength in an effort to make the rotation as smooth as possible.

Another factor in helping us ride well today was our time-trial bikes,manufactured by Look. This company has a long history in road and trackracing, and it shows through the equipment they design. Riders on ourteam can choose between aluminum or carbon-fiber frames depending onpreference. I use carbon-fiber because I like the feel. My teammateCarlos Sastre prefers aluminum. Both styles are super-aerodynamic andincredibly fast. It’s safe to say these bikes played a large part in ourability to post good split times today.Bjarne and Alex Pedersen, our team’s directors, did everything in theirpower to help us have a good day today. Our team hotel is 30km fromwhere the race started. That may not sound like a long distance, butwhen you factor in a team practice on the course, warm-up time near thestart, and having to travel back and forth by car in Tour de Francetraffic, 30km becomes more like 120km. And an hour or so in the car becomes two, maybe more. So the team decided on an early ride together on the coursethis morning. Then we rented hotel rooms near the start where we couldhang out, have lunch and get ready for the race. This eliminated thedoubling back. And I think it helped a lot. The less time a bike racerhas to spend sitting in a car, the better – especially on a tenseday like today.

It was raining when we headed out for our practice ride this morning,but luckily the weather gods were on our side when it came time to race.If only the puncture gods had joined them.

Thanks for reading.


Tyler Hamilton and Jonathan Vaughters are sending in regular updatesfrom peloton throughout this year’s Tour de France.To read other diary entries go to the “Riders’Diaries” section and follow the appropriate links.

Photo Gallery