By Tyler Hamilton, U.S. Postal Service Rider
Well, I made it. Historically speaking, it’s been a long time since I found satisfaction with merely finishing a race, but today, finishing within the time limit was my sole priority today on L’Alpe d’Huez.
Once under way, I mentioned to Lance that I’d help as much as I could but he said — “I’d prefer that you concentrate on finishing”. I took his orders to heart. Although I was able to show my face for a little bit at the front of the peloton at the base of the Madeleine. After that, it was all about getting through. The stomach fates are being a little more cooperative. I was still quite sick with nausea today but it seems to be subsiding a little. Quick … everyone knock on wood. Thanks.
I tried to eat as much as possible since I was worried about not getting enough calories last night. I had rice for dinner. And that’s not enough to fuel you for a stage like today. Our chiropractor is a bit of a jack-of-all trades and has helped me a ton with homeopathic stomach remedies. He even made me a protein shake with rice blended in it this morning to get me going. I’m definitely going to be indebted to this guy after all is said and done.
It was decided in our team meeting that Lance was going to go for the win on L’Alpe d’Huez. This approach is a departure from our team’s traditional tactics. Normally, we’d just concentrate on putting time into the competition and hope a guy low on GC would go for the break away. Things went as planned with Lance playing it pretty calm all the way to the base of the Alpe. This worked out perfectly from a tactical stand point. Telekom spent all day at the front burning matches while Lance, Roberto and Chechu cooled their heels in the peloton. Little did anyone know Lance was crouching like a panther ready to pounce. This guy is special. There’s no two ways about it. And I hear he’s in the running for an academy award.
Steffen took a bit of a spill today crashing down hard without a helmet. Now the Viking has road rash on his scalp.
Having made it through today, I will try to rest and recover as much as possible on Wednesday and Thursday. This means I’ll will be riding the time trial tomorrow as slow as possible to conserve my energy. And with a day off following that, hopefully I’ll get some R&R time in. My parents and my wife are scheduled to visit on the rest day which is something good to look forward to. Especially since I had my wife call home last night and tell them to sit tight before closing their suitcases. Luckily my parents are pretty understanding. And with three hours to spare before catching their plane, they were officially green lighted. It will be good to see them.
Robin Williams stopped by our team bus this morning and had everyone doubled over on the floor. He’s hilarious. I think he spent the day in one of the team cars as well.
I have to say, that the team has been unbelievably supportive to me over the past few days. Our second director Dirk Demol drove along side of me yesterday while I was in full grovel mode and yelled “We finish – We finish – We finish!!!” in an effort to keep me going. And Lance and Johan have also been understanding — just telling me to concentrate on staying in the race and getting better. I have to give them credit, because they’re being very patient. This is the Tour de France after all, cycling’s crockpot. It’s motivating to know they haven’t given up on me. It’s why I’m still here.
Thanks for reading.