Stage 13 – Saturday, July 20: Lavelanet – Béziers
By Tyler Hamilton, CSC-Tiscali cycling team
How about that Laurent Jalabert?
The guy’s been riding like an animal for three days. I honestly don’t know how he does it. Attacking off the front takes a lot out of you, especially going up hill. He’s incredible.
We’re happy to see him wearing the polka-dot climber’s jersey. Doing so was a big personal goal for him and for our team. And you could say the entire country of France is happy for him, too. It seems like the entire population has come out to wish him well in his last Tour de France. The frenzy surrounding this guy is nothing short of a circus. It’s great to see.
Yesterday was a bit of a rough ride for me. Half-way up the final climb, I cracked and lost contact with the lead group. I lost eight minutes over the final eight kilometers. My dream of finishing in the top five is probably over. Having been focused on back-to-back grand tours, like I have this season, has meant that I have had to focus on being in top form for six solid weeks of racing. That’s a long stretch to have to go without having a bad day. I think I made it about five weeks before having a bad day yesterday.
I’ve had pretty good legs since the beginning of May. So I guess it was about time for things to start catching up with me here in the Pyrénées. That said, there are still seven stages left in this race. So there are still seven opportunities to turn things around. And, no doubt, I’ll be giving it my best shot.
One bright spot yesterday was seeing my wife Haven on the final climb. She was with her camper full of buddies about 8 kilometers from the finish. She could tell I was in a bit of a crisis, so she ran along side of me cheering for as long as she could. I don’t think she planned on doing that, originally, because she was wearing sandals instead of sneakers at the time. She ran right out of them to keep going along side me. For sure, she had some dirty feet last night.
Haven and Odessa Gunn had traveled to yesterday’s finish town last week to paint the road. When they made their trip there wasn’t an ounce of graffiti on the roads yet. By yesterday, it was hard to find a single piece of tarmac that wasn’t covered in writing. It was pretty funny. But my wife’s artwork stood out pretty well. She painted “GO TYLER” in red white and blue block letters.
Odessa painted a huge portrait of her cat Elmo on the road for Levi. It was the first time I had seen a cartoon message in the Tour de France. She’s one creative lady.
I was able to speak with Michael Sandstød today. I was originally just trying to reach his wife Annette, but as luck would have it, she was with Michael when I called. He has been making progress and has been able to come of the respirator periodically. He managed a “Hi Tyler.”
Then Annette told me that she would hold the phone and he would listen if I talked. I tried to be as encouraging as possible. When I called, we were all still inside the team bus, making the transfer to our hotel. So I was able to pass the phone around to everyone on the team. It was great that we all got to say hello and send along some well wishes.
The reports are that Michael may have to spend up to a week more in ICU. I hope he exceeds the doctor’s expectations and gets home to Girona sooner than that. Many thanks to everyone who has sent along well wishes to Michael. It really does mean a lot.
I think this Tour de France is wearing me out and making my brain a little fuzzy. Tonight I bit into an apple while laying on the massage table and realized it was rotten. Since it was so gross, I figured I’d huck it out the window across the room. So I gave it the apple my best Pedro Martinez hurl. Low and behold, the window was closed.
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen what a rotten apple can do if it smashes against plate glass. If you haven’t, just trust me, it’s not a pretty sight. Luckily my soigneur Fritz only laughed at my stupidity. I probably wouldn’t have reacted the same way if someone did that in my room.
Tomorrow – Ventoux. Let’s hope I can wake these legs of mine back up. Send the vibes.
Thanks for reading.