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By Fabio
Date: 5/27/2002

Interviewed by Italian Journalists after his successful Time Trial, where he demolished opposition and bridged the previous gap to other overall contenders such as Francesco Casagrande and Dario Frigo, Tyler Hamilton kept talking about the next gruelling stages, to come on Wednesday and Thursday, after the second rest day and an easy, flat leg, and labelled them as "Very very very Hard. Very hard. I previewed both stages in April and I knew right away that those two stages are gonna be the deciding factor in the Giro, and a few seconds here today is really nothing compared to the possibilities in 16th and 17th (legs), so it will be definitely the deciding factor in the Giro ... I can tell you that".

Explicitly asked whether he thinks he can win the Giro, the CSC-Tiscali leader replied by saying that "You know, it's a tough question, just because of the way I have been feeling: after the hard crashes in Stage 5 I haven't been feeling at my best, and I have been suffering a little bit on the climbs, because I haven't been able to use my whole body. Standing up is not the same as it used to be, because of the pain in my shoulder and my ribs. I guess you could see in yesterday's final kilometres the others were out of the saddle, but I had to stay in the saddle and spin a small gear, and that has played a large part. So if I can recover next week, we'll see ...".

Few doubts about his main rivals though: "Casagrande, Frigo and Cadel Evans. For me those three are the leading riders here in this Giro and ... we'll see. Every day I feel I'm getting better after that crash, but the Stages 16 and 17 will really decide the Giro".

Some words about yesterdy's tactics, where several CSC-Ticali riders were at the front of the peloton, setting a fast pace. Some thought that it could be the sign of an imminent attack from Hamilton, but it never came, and the American even got dropped in the very final part of the stage, so why those efforts before ? "We didn't necessarily ride that way to have me attack at the end, only wanted the race to be hard. Not necessarily just for yesterday, but to make the stage hard and tire out the riders. That may help me today, you know, some riders might be more tired today than normal, because of the way we rode, and maybe I was able to take advantage of that".

Good tactics indeed. According to Sunday's result, seems it paid off somehow. Did he learn this from another master of tactics such as Lance Armstrong, the man he rode with (for) until next year ? And what can he say about his experience with the triple TdF winner ? "It has been a great opportunity for me riding with Lance, was a great experience, I learned a lot from him. Helping him win the last three Tour de France was a nice opportunity and I learned from the best rider in the World, so now leading a team myself it's a lot of fun and, you know, it's a new role for me but I enjoy it a lot."

And at the end of the interview, time for telling something on his future, but especially praising Armstrong "Well, (looking at) the way he's been riding the last three years, I think is almost unbeatable, but this year I'll give the Tour de France a go for the General Classification and, you know, I've never ridden the Tour for the GC, but we'll see ... but to beat Lance when he's at his best is ... well, who can beat him ? Maybe Superman !!"

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