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Tuesday, July 8
Hamilton getting it done despite injury news services

SAINT DIZIER, France -- Four-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has described his former teammate Tyler Hamilton as a "tough dude" for riding in the race with a broken collarbone.

My collarbone is aching a lot but it doesn't really affect my riding. I'd suffer the same if I wasn't on the bike.
Tyler Hamilton

Hamilton, who used to ride for Armstrong's U.S. Postal team, broke his right collarbone in a crash near the end of Sunday's first stage and is continuing in the Tour against medical advice.

The American, now with CSC Tiscali, completed Tuesday's 167.5-km stage from Charleville to Saint Dizier in the bunch finishing in the same time as winner Alessandro Petacchi.

"Tyler is a tough dude, he's a fighter," Armstrong said before the start of the stage. I dislocated my collarbone once and I didn't want to get on my bike, but Tyler's got a lot of ability to suffer."

"[Monday's] stage to Sedan wasn't an easy day, especially if you don't have complete control of the bike. I was riding along thinking, 'man, how's he doing it all taped up and in pain?'

"I admire him a lot for having the courage to carry on."

Hamilton started Tuesday's stage with his shoulder strapped but said he was determined to stay in the Tour for as long as possible.

"My collarbone is aching a lot but it doesn't really affect my riding. I'd suffer the same if I wasn't on the bike," Hamilton said.

"I slept well [Monday] night and that helped me recover. I'm determined to carry on for as long as I can and do the team time trial on Wednesday. Hopefully my position on my time trial bike won't affect my riding but we'll see what happens out on the road."

Special bikes are used in the time trials, giving the riders a more aerodynamic position. The riders are tucked over the front of the bike with their forearms resting on the handlebars instead of holding on to them.

"Remember, Lance rode during the Olympics with a broken vertebrae," Hamilton said. "He has that fighter mentality."

Hamilton got very little sleep Sunday night after the crash, which occurred 500 yards from the finish line during the first full stage of the Tour. The collision involved about 35 riders, with Hamilton and four others injured.

Hamilton completed Monday's stage -- a 126.8-mile trek under relentless sun from La-Ferte-sous-Jouarre to Sedan -- with a makeshift cast and three layers of bandaging around his torso.

"The mind is a powerful thing," Hamilton said. "I just tried to block the pain out by giving myself happy thoughts of my family."

The 32-year-old from Marblehead, Mass., is far from a stranger to hardship.

In 1992, he broke his back while training on the University of Colorado ski team. In an interview with The Associated Press, Hamilton said his return from that setback showed he was a survivor.

"I've dealt with a lot of pain in my life, it makes you tough coming back from those really low lows," he said.

After long months of rehabilitation, including hours spent on a stationary bike, he recovered.

He then decided to give up skiing and take up cycling, making progress through local teams.

In 1995, he joined the Montgomery-Bell team, which became the U.S. Postal Service team a year later and took a back seat as Armstrong won four straight Tours, starting in 1999.

However, frustrated at playing a secondary role, he accepted an offer from Bjarne Riis, a Tour winner in 1996, to become chief of the Danish CSC Team in 2001.

Hamilton won the Liege-Bastogne-Liege World Cup classic in Belgium on April 27 and Switzerland's Tour of Romandie in early May.

Riis says he advised Hamilton not to continue this year's Tour.

"What could I say? I knew he would race on anyway. That's just what he's like," Riis said.

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.

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