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Tyler Tunes: Eat or the Tour eats you

A funny thing happens on your way through the Tour de France. You get tired of eating. I'm thinking this is the ultimate sign of fatigue. Because, generally, I like to eat. And considering the team has it's own chef -- it's not about the quality of our daily cuisine. It's the mass quantities of calories we have to put down each day that gets tiring. It's ironic actually, because throughout the season we have to be so maniacal about what we put into our bodies. And here, by the third week, it's kind of an anything-goes atmosphere. We spent the day in the cockpit of the peloton, as we raced

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By Tyler Hamilton, U.S. Postal Service rider

A shot of Hamilton earlier in the week, with his family in the Pyrénées.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

A funny thing happens on your way through the Tour de France. You get tired of eating. I’m thinking this is the ultimate sign of fatigue. Because, generally, I like to eat. And considering the team has it’s own chef — it’s not about the quality of our daily cuisine. It’s the mass quantities of calories we have to put down each day that gets tiring. It’s ironic actually, because throughout the season we have to be so maniacal about what we put into our bodies. And here, by the third week, it’s kind of an anything-goes atmosphere.

We spent the day in the cockpit of the peloton, as we raced the 224km to Sarran. Ride up front and set tempo, distract breakaways, keep the lead group in check. If that sounds repetitious it is. And it will continue to be our mode of operation through the end of the race.

It was really hot today — Brad McGee who finished second, had to be helped from the finish area and taken to the medical tent for oxygen and fluids. He was totally wasted from his effort during the stage.

Being up front has its advantages. We missed out on the horrendous crash that took down 20 or so riders and forced five guys to abandon. Crashing is such a huge part of this race — more so than any other. It’s because every team and every rider is willing to risk it all at every moment. And with that you are bound to find trouble. I can honestly say that although I’ve had at least one crash in every Tour de France I’ve ridden, that hitting the pavement is not as common during the rest of the season.

Most times, the pile ups have nothing to do with you. You just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And when you are moving at the warp speeds of the Tour de France — there’s almost no amount of bike handling skill that can help you when a guy goes down in front of you. Before you know it you’re five deep in a mound of men and metal.

So, anyone who thinks bike racers crash a lot is misinformed. It’s certainly an on the job hazard — but if you add up all the days a rider trains and races — you’d be hard pressed to find a guy who pulls a yard sale more than 1 or 2 percent of the time.

That said, today’s pile-up was spectacularly bad. It’s rare to see such a high number of guys out of the race in one incident. But broken bones aren’t very forgiving. And a rider losing consciousness is nothing to take lightly. To say the least — today’s episode was pretty horrific. And I’m sure there are a number of other guys who were involved that limped to the finish and will wake up feeling pretty bad in the morning. The damage count could grow even higher.

Considering the risks, you might wonder if we sign disclaimers when we agree to participate in the Tour de France. Ha — now that’s funny. Actually, the Tour de France is the sole reason many of us spend big money insuring our bodies. Today’s mishap is the sole reason why the Tour is not over until you cross the finish line.

Thanks for reading.