Friends and neighbors |

Friends and neighbors

Andrew Hood

Tyler Hamilton helped Lance Armstrong win his first three Tours when he was with the U.S. Postal Service team. He joined the Danish Team CSC last year to become the squad’s team leader.

Hamilton finished second overall in last year’s Giro d’Italia, but saw his chances for Tour victory evaporate this year when he fractured his right clavicle in the Tour’s first stage.

Hamilton bravely fought on to remain in the Tour, but couldn’t ride at full strength to challenge his former boss for the overall title. Wednesday’s stage victory took the sting out of the setback.

“Today has made up for everything. To win a stage in the Tour de France is fantastic,” Hamilton said. “It’s beyond my wildest dreams.”

Hamilton and Armstrong might be rivals on the bike, but away from racing they remain close friends. They often train together and both own apartments in a refurbished 16th-century palace in Girona, Spain, where they live during the European racing season.

Hamilton, of Marblehead, Mass., was instrumental in slowing the front group of attacking riders in Monday’s decisive stage to Luz Ardiden so Armstrong could catch back on after toppling off his bike when his handlebars got tangled up with a fan’s bag.

Armstrong showed his appreciation and respect Wednesday by hugging Hamilton during the post-race podium presentation.

“Tyler’s a close friend and a close neighbor, it’s great for him,” said Armstrong, who finished safely in the main group to retain the race leader’s yellow jersey. “When I saw Tyler go, I thought, ‘Oh, Tyler, that’s a brave move.’ He deserves the victory.”

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