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Hamilton Takes Time For Tugboat's Last Day
Thu Jul 22, 2004
Source: RideZine.com

LIMOGES, FRANCE - Tyler Hamilton took time off from the Tour de France for one evening to be with his longtime companion, Tugboat. The Hamilton's golden retriever, suffering from cancer, was euthanized Wednesday evening. Hamilton told reporters ninth stage he learned of Tugboat's advanced cancer late Monday evening.

"For me it's a very sad day...he's like a child. I am going to see him tonight and I'll say goodbye and that's it. That's life. I've had many great years with him. I met my wife after seven years, but I had two years with my dog and then I met my wife. She was growing to be super close with him as well. It was just my dog and my wife and I. It's kind of a regular family here."

"It's like losing a member of the family," said Hamilton's father.
According to Hamilton's father, Bill, the dog had developed advanced cancer throughout its abdomen, could not stand, and endured tremendous pain in recent weeks.

Tyler's wife, Haven, drove from Gerona, Spain, with Tugboat to the Tour de France to allow the dog one last day with Tyler.
Haven then made the long drive back home where she then took him to a local bakery to pick out all of his favorite pastries. After that feast, Tugboat was taken to the vet to be "put to the sleep".

"It's hard. It's very sad and I'm not afraid to say that I cried a lot last night. Maybe people don't understand but for me and my dog. I'm so close to my dog," said Hamilton. "We've treated him like a king, that's for sure. He's traveled all over the world and has had a great life."

Despite a hard crash during the wet and wild first week of the Tour de France, Hamilton and his Phonak team have ridden well. With the race due to enter the critical mountain stages, Hamilton sits in 11th place overall and within striking distances of all the major contenders.
The Tour entered the Massif Central of France Wednesday, tackling several difficult climbs in the longest stage of the 2004 Tour. Racing on Bastille Day, France's Richard Virenque (Quick Step/Davitamon) won the stage and took over the King of the Mountains jersey. Another Frenchman, Thomas Voekler (Brioches Les Boulangeres) held the overall leader's jersey and finished with the main peloton.

Hamilton lost seven seconds in the closing meters of today's stage when a split opened in the peloton.

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