Yesterday not only marked the opening the Tour De Georgia, a 667-mile race that covers seven days of racing starting in Peachtree City and finishing at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, but also the return of Tyler Hamilton to sanctioned racing in the United States after a two-year doping ban.
Tyler return marks the end of a frustrating two+ years of sitting on the sidelines due to a controversy over doping charges. The 1st stage results were not fantastic — finishing 56th out of 120 cyclist – but nevertheless it was encouraging and something to build on for future races like the upcoming Giro (Tour of Italy) and July's Tour de France.
Hamilton signed with Tinkoff Credit Systems team (Italian-Russian team) in the off-season as their captain, meaning the team will race and support Hamilton for overall victory in the tours. Even as captain, Tyler is cautious his ability to be a Top 5 finisher due to the long layoff over the charges and his age of 36, which normally is the down side of a cycling career. Even with these obstacles, Tyler still prepared and trained during his two-year hiatus with activities like supporting and fundraising of his foundation for Multiple Sclerosis.
The one thing the sport should be aware of is that Tyler is a fighter, if you do not believe me, just take a look at his Stage 16 win at Tour de France on July 23, 2003, as an example of his determination and guts. He won a 197-km stage while riding in severe pain with a broken collarbone. Now that is guts!
This time around Tyler has another weapon in his arsenal - motivation. The motivation that he is innocent of doping charges and the inexcusable treatment he received during the doping case hearings from his former team, press, and the governing cycling body. So, now it the time for Tyler to show the world that he has always been clean and can still be consider one of the elite cyclists in the world. Go Tyler!