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Cycling: Tour de France: BRAVEHAMILTON'S BREAKAWAY.

Byline: TOM ROSS

AMERICAN cyclist Tyler Hamilton yesterday produced the biggest successful solo breakaway of the centenary Tour de France to post a win in the 16th stage that will go down as one of the most courageous in the 100-year history of the race.

Hamilton, the team leader of the CSC outfit,has been racing with a broken collarbone since being caught up in a pile-up at the end of the first stage on July 6,but he has not shirked even the toughest climbs in the Alps and Pyrenees.

The man, who had tearfully informed journalists he was out of the race after that crash only to reconsider just 45 minutes before the start of the second stage, now lies sixth overall, some 6 mins 35 secs behind race leader Lance Armstrong.

He must only wonder what might have been possible had he not been in the wrong place in the wrong time when Spanish rider Jose EnriqueGutierrez's bike slipped from under him in a sprint finish. Hamilton, thrown over his bike, had landed on his shoulder and his head and there had initially been fears that he may have been even more seriously injured.

Clearly delighted with his victory,he looked back on the crash at Meaux that had nearly ended his Tour.

``After stage one I though I could not manage it,'' saidHamilton.``Then I thought I would keep going to the team time-trial to help out my team-mates.

``After that I felt better and better and kept going and finally I felt I could go on and finish the Tour.''

Armstrong remains in the leader's yellow jersey with a 67 secs lead over his closest challenger Jan Ullrich with neither man making a significant move on Wednesday. With a temporary truce in the battle for overall honours the stage was set for Hamilton,from Marblehead, Massachussetts, to take the limelight.

And he prevailed on the day with a marathon 142.5kmbreakaway in the 197.5km stage that started deep in the Pyrenees in Pau with the last 95km being a solo effort as his fellow escapees fell by the wayside.

Britain`s DavidMillar briefly led the 16th stage but finished 145thas he slipped to 53rd overall.

Stage 16 (Pau toBayonne,197.5km):1Tyler Hamilton (USA)Team CSC 4hrs 59 mins 41secs, 2 ErikZabel (Ger)Team Telekom at 1 min 55secs, 3 Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr)Jean Delatour Selected other: 145 David Millar (Gbr) Cofidis - Credit Par Telephone at 32.20 General classification after stage 16:1 Lance Armstrong (USA)US Postal-Berry Floor 70hrs 37 mins 59secs, 2 JanUllrich (Ger)Team Bianchi at 1min 07secs, 3 AlexandreVinokourov (Kaz)Team Telekom at 2.45,4 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa)Euskaltel-Euskadi at 5.16 Selected other: 53 David Millar (Gbr) Cofidis,Credit Par Telephone at 1:55.05

CAPTION(S):

BRAVE: Tyler Hamilton
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 24, 2003
Words:473
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