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Tyler Tunes: Rain and chaos theory

Greetings from the rain-drenched Tour de France. I don’t think we saw a single drop of water throughout all of last year’s Tour, but 2004 is shaping up to be a battle against Mother Nature, among other things. Well, so much for that old theory that the first half of the Tour is always boring. The first week has been full of all kinds of action. Unfortunately, all of the excitement has been more about things outside of the riders' control than the race itself, although one could argue weather is a major part of the Tour every year. Last year’s heat wave was no treat. So far this year, it’s

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By Tyler Hamilton, Phonak Hearing Systems Pro Cycling Team

Waiting for another day at the office

Waiting for another day at the office

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Greetings from the rain-drenched Tour de France.

I don’t think we saw a single drop of water throughout all of last year’s Tour, but 2004 is shaping up to be a battle against Mother Nature, among other things.

Well, so much for that old theory that the first half of the Tour is always boring. The first week has been full of all kinds of action. Unfortunately, all of the excitement has been more about things outside of the riders’ control than the race itself, although one could argue weather is a major part of the Tour every year. Last year’s heat wave was no treat. So far this year, it’s been rain and wind wreaking havoc on the peloton.

When the streets are full of water, everything washes up from the gutters and the sides of the road, so you are constantly riding over pebbles and debris. I think our team has had more than 20 flat tires in the last four stages. It’s been crazy.

Finish-line madness
Friday’s finish was eerily reminiscent of stage 1 last year, when more than 40 riders hit the pavement with 500 meters to go. There is always a chance of a crash when the peloton comes charging in for a sprint finish, especially during the first week of the Tour, when there is so much at stake and huge pressure on every rider in the race. That’s why I think – out of respect for the riders – every stage with the potential of finishing in a sprint should do so down a big, straight, wide boulevard.

Maybe this doesn’t make for great television, but the number of roundabouts, medians, islands, lefts, rights, crowds and narrowing roads we’ve needed to navigate through the finishing kilometers of the last few stages borders on irresponsibility.

Expecting nearly 180 riders to barrel down a finishing straight that narrowed by the meter yesterday was a big miscalculation by the technical directors. It was as crazy as the hard right that brought down the peloton last year.

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The number of guys riding in bandages at this point could be unprecedented. I’ve never seen so many guys beat up at the same time. Our team is no exception. Almost all of us went down in the crash yesterday. Oscar Pereiro got up off the ground with his little finger bent straight out at a 90-degree angle. It looked awful, but was not broken, just dislocated. He lucked out.

I went over the handlebars and landed on the back of my head. I scraped up my shoulder blades and my spine. I guess I landed on my bones. I was pretty sore at the start this morning, but all in all, I think I was pretty lucky. Hopefully I’ll feel better in a couple days.

Another tough day at the office
Today’s final kilometers were a little crazy as well. Although the finishing straights were a little more generous than yesterday, there was a close call about 10km from the finish.

The crowds were in the streets and some kind of flare was burning on the left side of the road. The smoke made it difficult to see padded barriers in the center median. Some guys just barely missed it. All this was going on just as we were heading full speed into a roundabout. It really was amazing no one got seriously hurt.

These have been some tough days at the office. But our team does try to relax every night after dinner. Before we eat, we’re all caught up in the hectic scheduling of massage, chiropractic work, getting bandaged by the doctors, etc. No one has a free second until well after 10 p.m. But by late night, we all try to regroup outside. Our team bus is pretty comfortable, and it has become a tradition that we wind down our days here at the Tour watching a movie or race highlights, or just hanging out together out in the parking lot.

It sounds kind of funny, given all the time we spend in the bus transferring to and from the starts and finishes. But I guess it’s the closest thing we have to home at the moment. So it’s kind of become our rolling clubhouse.

Tomorrow is going to be another long windy ride. Hopefully it we’ll see some sun.Thanks for reading.



Tyler Hamilton, a member of the Phonak Hearing systems professional cycling team, is a regular contributor to VeloNews and VeloNews.com. In addition to a thriving cycling career, Hamilton is also the founder of The TylerHamilton Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to provide opportunityand access for individuals affected by multiple sclerosis and aspiringyoung athletes with a passion for cycling.

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