Xining, China — Tyler Hamilton delivered Rock Racing its most prestigious victory to date Sunday when he captured the overall title at the Tour of Qinghai Lake in China.
Hamilton crossed the finish line with the peloton at the end of a 68-mile (110 km) circuit race through the streets of Xining to secure a 10-second win over Marek Rutkiewicz (Polish National Team). Iranian Hossein Askari (Tabriz Petrochemical Team) finished third, 1:08 behind.
“It’s a special win for me,” Hamilton told a group of reporters after being congratulated by his Rock Racing teammates. “It’s been a long time. I think most people didn’t think I’d ever reach the highest level (again).”
This was Hamilton’s sixth victory in an international stage race, but his first since the Tour de Romandie in 2004. The 37-year-old Marblehead, Mass., native has won more than 30 races since turning professional in 1995.
Rock Racing Team Owner Michael Ball congratulated Hamilton by phone for earning the team’s 26th win of the year.
“Seeing pictures of Tyler on the podium in the yellow jersey is simply spectacular and fulfills one of my original goals for this team,” Ball said. “I set out to give guys second chances and Tyler is a perfect example of that. He’s been one of our captains on the road this year, giving his all to help his teammates win. Now it’s his turn to celebrate.”
Hamilton won the eighth stage Friday to move into the lead after trailing Rock Racing teammate Oscar Sevilla in the overall standings since the opening time trial July 11. Sevilla finished the race in fifth place, 1:22 behind.
“The goal coming in was to win the race, whether it was myself, Oscar, Michael Creed or whoever,” Hamilton said. “So for me, it’s all the same – victory for a teammate is a victory for me. This is nice way to repay them, the staff and especially Michael Ball.”