Tyler readies himself for TT

Despite his recent lack of competition, Tyler Hamilton feels his form is good for Wednesday's time t

Despite his recent lack of competition, Tyler Hamilton feels his form is good for Wednesday’s time t

PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Vouliagmeni is one of the more classy locations of this Olympic Games. This morning, down among the apartment blocks and luxury hotels overlooking the yachts in Vouliagmeni Bay, in the leafy southern suburbs of Athens, the major stars in men’s and women’s time trialling were making their final training sweep of the fast Olympic time trialling course. Tomorrow’s Olympic time trial event will lack Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, of course, and, to the ongoing chagrin of the British team, the ostracised David Millar, recently banned for two years for his admission of doping, but it will still contain a clutch of likely gold medallists. In the reception area of the Hotel Armonia, the USA’s Bobby Julich and Tyler Hamilton emerged to train on the wide, rolling roads. The course may not be a dragstrip but the smooth road and lack of technical turns will suit power riders, like defending champion Viatcheslav Ekimov of Russia, and the Ukraine’s Serhiy Honchar. For Hamilton, the Olympic time trial is another good chance to put his season back on track after the disappointments of July. “I feel good,” he told procycling. “I think I have a shot at a medal, so I will give it everything. I don’t know what comes next in my season, and we’re still trying to decide. The Vuelta is possible, but my back is still a problem. It was a bad accident I had in the Tour.” “I’m enjoying it so far,” he said of the Olympic experience, as he wheeled his bike through the hotel grounds. “The road race was hard but we were aggressive, we were in a lot of breakaways, with all five of our riders, and unfortunately it didn’t pan out. Bettini was obviously the strongest and he deserved to win. “But for me it was my first race since stage 13 of the Tour, and when you go a long time like that without racing it’s difficult. There were a few cobwebs in my legs. But overall, I was pretty happy.” Hamilton finished the 224-kilometre Olympic road race with the main field, in 18th place. “Normally, in a race like that – if it’s your first for a month – after 200 km you feel like you’re dying, but at the finish I felt OK,” said Hamilton. “I wasn’t completely exhausted. It was hot but I’ve been training a lot in Girona in the heat, leaving training until the hottest part of the day.” Like his team-mates, Hamilton has been mixing with all the other Olympians in the Olympic village. “Sydney was my first Olympics and unfortunately we didn’t get to stay in the village. This time – until last night when we got to this hotel – we have and it was great. “This time, here in Athens, it has felt a lot more like the Olympics to me. Last time in Sydney, it came later on in the year, towards the end of the season and everyone was tired. I did the road race and the time trial and that was it – I didn’t see any other Olympians. Here it has been really cool – I’ve really felt part of the American team. “OK, I did feel like I was back in college a few times, but I liked that. I have some good memories of being in college! It’s different to what I’m used to certainly. In the village you have to look after yourself a lot more and be with all the other teams. But that’s fun.”