June 28, 2004
Hamilton speaks on doping, Tour prep
The Guardian does a good feature story/interview with Tyler Freaking Hamilton, who they call "America's other cyclist." Ouch.
The story goes into all the colorful exploits of the toughest man in go-business: The 11 caps he needed after gritting his teeth through the Giro, riding 3 weeks of last year's Tour with a broken collarbone and refusing painkillers since they make him woozy.
Hamilton says he thinks he can win it all if everything goes perfectly.
"Taking out a flat time-trial and adding a mountain time-trial is a big advantage to guys like Mayo, [Ivan] Basso, [Roberto] Heras," Hamilton forecasts, "because the strong time-triallists are not going to put two, three minutes into those guys. This year's Tour suits more of a pure climber than in the past. It'll be a more open Tour than for some time."
I get the impression the interview predates David Millar's exclusion, but Hamilton told the Guardian he thinks doping is an exception in the peloton:
"I think it's in a good phase," he says. "I can't speak for the other teams but I can speak for my team and myself. I feel like it's cleaned up a lot. I got tested three times in the off-season; that's just out-of-competition testing. And with all three teams I've been on I've signed my contract knowing if I use illegal substances I'm fired straight away.
"I think it's getting better, though there is a lot of silence. But maybe the teams aren't so open because of the journalists. If they don't always write the truth, and then someone like [the retired Kelme rider Jesus] Manzano speaks, they take it word for word as though it's the truth. Between him and [former Cofidis professional Philippe] Gaumont, they've done so much damage to the sport, and how do we know it's all true?"
Hamilton advocates a riders' union to help look after the riders' interests, including testing and long-term health.
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