|Lady luck finally smiled upon Tyler Hamilton (despite coming off his pedal with 200m to go!) and the American took stage 14 at the Giro de Italia.
Over a hilly time trial course, Hamilton put all his cards on the table, and with his boss, Bjarne Riis, screaming directions (Manolo Saiz style), the CSC-Tiscali leader put two weeks of falls and stomach problems behind, to become the 4th American (Andy Hampsten, Greg Lemond and Ron Kiefel are the other three) to have won a stage of the Giro.
But another great performance was made by the new Mapei leader, Cadel Evans, who finished third, 41 seconds behind Hamilton, and thus, catapulted to second overall, 48 seconds behind current leader, Jens Heppner and 1:06 infront of today's stage winner.
And if it looks like Tyler's faith has gone on the positive side, race favorite Francesco Casagrande may have run out of luck entering the third and final week of the race. The Fassa Bortolo leader couldn't shake his main contenders during yesterday's mountain stage, and today lost time to both Evans and Hamilton, and that surely has shaken the Tuscan climber's cage.
With one week to go, the race remains opened, with not a single rider "dominating" the competition. Tomorrow's rest day will be used by the climbers (especially Casagrande) to recharge their batteries before the final assault up the Dolomites, where certainly, the Giro will be decided.
Stage 14 Results
1. Tyler Hamilton (USA)CSC Tiscali 41.21 (43.97 km/h)
2. Serguei Gontchar (Ukr) Fassa Bortolo 0.31
3. Cadel Evans (Aus) Mapei-Quick Step 0.41
4. Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 0.52
5. Aitor Gonzalez Jimenez (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 0.55
6. Dario Frigo (Ita) Tacconi Sport-Emmegi 0.59
7. Dario David Cioni (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 1.01
8. Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Lampre-Daikin 1.07
9. Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner 1.07
10. Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Alessio 1.15
11. Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 1.25
12. Vladimir Duma (Ukr) Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo 1.34
13. Andrea Noe' (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 1.34
14. Paolo Savoldelli (Ita)IndexAlexia 1.35
15. Fernando Escartin (Spa) Team Coast 1.35
16. Andrea Peron (Ita) Team CSC Tiscali 1.40
17. Cristian Moreni (Ita) Alessio 1.44
18. Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 1.50
19. Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Alessio 1.52
20. Mariano Piccoli (Ita) Lampre-Daikin 1.53
General Classification after Stage 14
1. Jens Heppner (Ger) Team Telekom 64.29.54
2. Cadel Evans (Aus) Mapei-QuickStep 0.48
3. Tyler Hamilton (USA) Team CSCTiscali 1.06
4. Francesco Casagrande (Ita) FassaBortolo 1.07
5. Dario Frigo (Ita) Tacconi SportEmmegi 1.11
6. Aitor Gonzalez Jimenez (Spa) Kelme-CostaBlanca 1.15
7. Pietro Caucchioli (Ita)Alessio 1.20
8. Fernando Escartin (Spa)Team Coast 1.40
9. Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) IndexAlexia 1.49
10. Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) LottoAdecco 2.13