By Tyler Hamilton, U.S. Postal Service Rider
It’s Friday the 13th at the Tour de France. Kind of a scary thought actually. This is after all, the race where grown men curse bad luck and pray that good karma is on their side. I don’t know if the date was on most rider’s minds today. Historically, I’ve always been kind of fond of the number 13. It’s never frightened me too much. In fact, after finishing 13th in the Tour in ’99 it kind of became a lucky number of sorts.
Well, as of today, I’m going to have to scrap all this 13 worship and join the ranks of the leery. I officially dislike Friday the 13th – because today, as they say back home, rotted. Maybe I torched myself a little bit yesterday stressing about the TTT and trying to ride like a man with a mission. Who can say? All I know is that I didn’t feel so hot during today’s stage. It was as if my stomach wasn’t digesting food or something. Sometimes your body has to revolt a little – I guess it’s nature’s way of asking what the hell you think you are doing.
I battled hard to keep my position through most of the stage. I tried to stay at the front of the peloton and help my teammates as much as I could. But honestly, I fell short on the detail today. I made it over the Cat 2 climb all right which is reassuring – but toward the end I felt like I should relax a little. Around 9 kms to go we were battling crosswinds and the guy in front of me sat up. There’s not much you can do in a situation like this. I lost contact with the field and wound up finishing a few minutes down. I can honestly say that I’m all set with riding in crosswinds.
The time deficit is not really an issue though — the bigger concern of the day was feeling a little off. It’s stressful because you don’t know if it’s from eating something or if it’s just a bad day in general. Needless to say I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it passes. As I’ve said before, my overall time is not important — what is is being strong enough to help Lance in the mountains. That after all, is my sole purpose in being here. And I don’t want to let him down.
That said, I’ll be the guy riding with the garlic around his neck tomorrow.
Thanks for reading.