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Tyler Hamilton, suffering from back pains after a crash on Friday, says he is relieved to be taking a day’s rest before the Tour de France battle starts in earnest this week.
The American, who finished fourth last year behind five-time champion Lance Armstrong, despite breaking his collarbone, said on Sunday he was not afraid of suffering. The many crashes during the wet and windy conditions of the first week had made him nervous, however.
“Considered all the problems we had in the last couple of days, I’m happy we finished today,” the Phonak team leader said at the end of the 168km eighth stage from Lamballe to Quimper after finishing with the peloton behind stage winner Thor Hushovd. He sits 11th overall, 10 minutes and 11 seconds behind leader Thomas Voeckler of France.
The 31-year-old was involved in a pile-up near the end of Friday’s stage, when he collided with the other riders and went over the handlebars, landing on his back.
“A couple of days ago, we had problems with the crash. I was lucky we had a couple of flat stages to recover. The team was fantastic as usual,” he said.
“The rest day starts now, not in the stage. If you relax, if you start to think about the rest day, it can make the stage very difficult. I told the guys to keep fighting until the end of the stage. Now it’s the rest day.”
Hamilton will use the break in Limoges to try to ease the pain in his back, knowing the first really demanding stage in this year’s Tour takes place on Wednesday over 237km between Limoges and St Flour.
“Tuesday’s stage is similar to today’s. Wednesday, the second half of the Tour starts, so hopefully the team and I can recover well. For me and my back, after a nice day tomorrow, it’ll be better. I hope so,” he said.