I’ve been thinking about how sadly Tyler Hamiliton’s career ended, with a whimper, not a bang. Such a checkered, bittersweet ride through pro cycling. Hamilton’s mountain stage win in the Tour de France was one of the most inspiring things I have ever seen. It was as powerful a testament to will power and guts and fortitude as you can imagine. You can say whatever you want about blood doping, anyone who wins a tour stage in that kind of agony has a pain threshold most humans can’t even comprehend. Tyler was the definition of bad luck; every crash Lance seemed to avoid with a 6th sense brought Tyler down hard. For every triumph there were a dozen disasters.
You can’t help but feel that Tyler, like many other American riders, suffered in the SOL. The Shadow of Lance. If you look at Hamilton and Landis and riders like Danielson, the burden of trying to keep up with Lance seems to have broken them. What riders wants the title, the next Lance? Hard to carve out your own identity and expectations. And it’s sad to see the suffering and the damage: broken marriages, bitterness and financial ruin for both Hamilton and Landis. It must irk them no end to see how Lance has sailed through relatively unscathed. They once called Reagan the Teflon president–no criticism ever stuck. Lance has that same charmed quality.
I hope that Tyler will find some measure of happiness and peace now that his cycling career has ended. He deserves it.