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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 July, 2003, 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK
Hamilton clinches courageous win
Tyler Hamilton
Hamilton has been in pain since the first stage
Tyler Hamilton clinched his first ever Tour de France stage win after a solo breakaway on Wednesday despite riding with a broken collar bone.

It was a stunning performance by the American, who injured his collar bone when he fell off in a mass crash on the first stage over two weeks ago.

Hamilton took stage 16 by one minute 55 seconds from Eric Zabel, who won the mass sprint for second.

Lance Armstrong retains the yellow jersey as overall leader while Hamilton, who started the day in seventh, moves up to sixth overall.

"I really can't believe it," said Hamilton. "About five days ago I started to get really tired and I felt I was starting to lose it because of all the pain."

Sensing that Hamilton was in trouble CSC team leader, former Tour winner Bjarne Riis, gave him and the team a morale boosting talk and Hamilton said that helped him win on Wednesday.

"I owe this to my team," he said. "I was struggling at the beginning and was dropped by the peloton but five of them came back to help me.

"I couldn't have done it without them.

"We believed in ourselves and we fought today."

I'll probably make it to Paris but I wish I didn't have to suffer so much
David Millar

Hamilton jumped clear of the peloton after 55km (34 miles) and rode across to a leading group of about 10 riders which included Britain's David Millar.

Millar, who has been suffering with a serious cough, was dropped on the second major climb of the day but Hamilton was in his element and he escaped from the rest of the breakaway on the climb up the Col de Bagarguy.

It is the steepest climb in the Tour and Hamilton crossed the top with over five minutes in hand.

The peloton tried to hunt him down but the American had enough energy left to claim a famous victory.

Millar was bitterly disappointed not to have been able to keep up with the pace in the crucial stages and said he was thoroughly fed up with feeling ill.

"I wanted to win because the stage finished just a few kilometres from my home but there was nothing I could do on the second climb and was left behind," he said.

"I'm just fed up - fed up of suffering and fed up of being so far from 100%. I'll probably make it to Paris but I wish I didn't have to suffer so much."



Links to more Tour de France 2003 stories


 

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"The Tour is about digging deeper than ever before"


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"I gave it everything I had"



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