By Tyler Hamilton, Phonak Hear ing Systems Pro Cycling Team
The Tour of Romandie went better than we had hoped or imagined it would. Together, we were able to drum up victories in stages 3 and 5, win the overall individual and team classifications. It was a really nice feeling. We have been working hard all spring and it was great to finally see all of the collective efforts of the team and staff pay off. My teammates rode like men on a mission throughout the race. Many of them were competing in their own backyards and were extra motivated to make the most of their home court advantage. With these guys setting the tone, the rest of us followed suit and, as a result, every rider on the team had a good race. I was more than fortunate to have guys like Alex Zülle, Oscar Camanzind and Oscar Sevilla, to name a few, busting their butts for me. With the kind of support these guys were dishing out, it was difficult to consider letting them down. It was impressive to see these guys completely dedicate themselves to our sole objective of winning the overall. This was a tough race, and these guys absolutely buried themselves to keep me in good position. And their efforts didn’t go unnoticed. I can’t tell you how many riders approached me to tell me how strong the team looked. For me, it was gratifying to know these guys were being noticed. I’m really proud of this team, and I want everyone to know how talented these guys I’m surrounded by are. We have been on a mission to really develop into a cohesive group since our first get together last November. We have made slow and steady progress through the winter and spring. This can take time, and I know some folks were starting to doubt us. But I hope we showed over the course of this last race that we are serious about making this team a success. We still have a long way to go to get things to the level we aspire to, but I think we have shown now that we are capable of doing good things. That last TT
There was a really special feeling in the air at the finish in Lausanne on Sunday. All my teammates were waiting for me just past the finish line. They were surrounded by all of our team staff as well, some of whom had been working at the race and others who had given up their days off to be on hand to show their support.
I just wish I had been a little less cross-eyed after the finish so I could really enjoy the moment. It had been a while since I had seen so many tears at a bike race. Most people think Phonak is a new team, but they have been around for a while, quietly developing into the organization they are today.
There are a lot of people who have invested their days and nights and livelihoods into growing this team. Namely, Andy Rihs, the owner, sponsor and number one fan. Being able to win Romandie this year was a lot more special because doing so meant so much to the team and everyone involved. Due to some technical difficulties, I wasn’t in good contact with the team car throughout the final time trial. So my only choice was to go full out and not ask questions. The final few kilometers were so tough mentally and physically largely because I had no idea what was going on.
Adrenaline helped me pass my two-minute man on the final climb, but he quickly passed me back because I was starting to pay for having the pedal to the max over the entire course. Still, it all ended well, although it took me a few minutes to figure out if I had won the stage or the overall after the finish. Everyone just assumed I knew the outcome. There wasn’t a whole lot of time to celebrate though. As usually is the case after a finish, guys scatter like ants to make flights and rides home. I had to skip the press conference following the race to make it to my departure.
Looking to July
I know I lot of folks are excited about the upcoming Tour, some of whom want to put words in my mouth regarding my expectations and goals come July. Per usual, I really prefer to just let my legs do the talking rather than flap my gums.
All I can say at this point is, that I’ve been given an incredible opportunity to ride for a great team that is every bit as fired up about the Tour as I am. We are all training with a mission. We really want to see a Phonak jersey on the podium – that’s our goal. And the way this team rallied around Romandie as an objective makes me think if we keep our heads down and our hearts in the game, we can get there. But before that all plays itself out, there’s a lot of riding to be done. Some of the guys on our team have the Giro on the horizon. Me? I have plenty of homework to do in the Pyrénées and the Alps and they’ll be a good bit of racing to do in June as a ramp-up for July.
So, one step at a time. Little by little. Thanks for reading.