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Prologue time trial – Liége-Liége (6.1km)
By Tyler Hamilton, Phonak Hearing Systems Pro Cycling Team
LIÉGE – It feels good to have officially startedthe race. The days leading up to the Tour always seem like such chaos.You never stop moving. There is always somewhere to be and some who needsto speak with you. It’s a hectic pace to be keeping when all you reallywant to do is rest. Three long weeks are ahead, so it’s important to maintaina balance.Our camp gathered a little early on Tuesday morning to do some lastminute previewing of the team time trial course together. It’s always abit of a challenge to figure out the order the guys are going to ride in.So it was good to have the chance to fine tune things a bit while ridingon the actual course.We also spent an afternoon previewing Stage 3 which will feature twopretty significant sections of pave. It’s only a few kilometers of cobblestones,total – but they are pretty tough. Just riding them in training was enoughto make my hands blister from holding the bars tight enough to keep controlof my bike – which was bouncing all over the place. Everyone keeps talkingabout the second half of the Tour being where the real racing will be done,but there will be plenty of hurdles to jump before anyone can get to that.Today’s prologue course was pancake flat. Prologues are not always myspecialty. I tend to favor those that are a little more technical or featurea bit of a climb. I tried out some longer cranks thinking they’d help mego faster on the long straight-aways, but in retrospect, they may havecost me too much in the corners. I would have preferred to have placedin the top 10, but I’m satisfied to have finish in the hunt, inside thetop 20. There’s a long way to go in this race, so it’s not worth beatingmyself up over a few seconds lost today.I was able to race on my new time trial bike this afternoon. It’s anewly designed frame from BMC, custom made in Switzerland by a carbon fibercompany that also works with teams from Formula One auto racing. The framefeatures an integrated fork design that eliminates the need for a stem.So it looks and feels pretty different. It’s the most aerodynamic timetrial bike I’ve ever ridden.On behalf of my dog Tugboat, I want extend a huge thank you for thewell wishes, notes and e-mails I’ve received regarding his recent illness.An endoscopy preformed early last week showed he is suffering from multiplestomach ulcers that developed after he had an allergic reaction to medicationhe was taking. He’s still making daily vet visits for treatment, but hopesto be well enough to catch a couple of the Pyrenees stages of the Tour.I also want to send my condolences out the family and friends of StiveVermaut. Stive was a teammate of mine back on U.S. Postal. I have greatmemories of racing along side of him. He supported me with the strengthof two men in the Dauphiné Libéré in 2000. He wasa big factor in my overall victory in the race that year. I’ll never forgethow hard he rode, and how much work he did to support me there. He wasa very talented rider, who surely would have accomplished great thingshad he not suffered from a hereditary heart condition. His career and lifeended far too early.I’ll check back in after Stage 2.Thanks for reading.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.