Scott Hamilton to cycle 444 miles in cancer fundraiser

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Scott Hamilton is back in action.

No, the figure skating icon won’t be lacing up. He’ll be sitting atop a bike and cycling 444 miles Erase the Trace, a five-day ride along the Natchez Trace Parkway. The fundraiser that goes through Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee is designed to raise $1.25 million in funding for a breakthrough glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cancer research grant to treat the most aggressive form of brain cancer.

Inspired by the story of Scott Williams, who is a GBM patient and reached out to the 1984 Olympic champion’s Scott Hamilton & Friends organization a year ago for help in fundraising. Not only did Hamilton put together a skating show to help in 2021, but he also rode the final portion of the initial Erase the Trace. Now, Hamilton will join Williams for the entire ride from May 2 to May 7.

“Last year’s Erase the Trace inspired me like no other event we have ever done,” Hamilton said. “The hope, drive, and bravery of glioblastoma patient Scott Williams awakened a part of my heart that I hadn’t realized needed awakening. The instant we welcomed Scott to the finish line at the end of his ride, I knew it was something I had to do next year.

“I can’t wait to feel the wind in my face, the burn of my legs, and the pounding of my heart as I, too, rise to the 444-mile challenge. I am so excited to know that with each push of the pedal, we are getting that much closer to positively changing outcomes for people facing brain cancer.”

Erase the Trace references both the Natchez Trace itself and Williams’ battle with glioblastoma. Each mile in 2021 was ridden in honor or memory of a specific person.

“Even with 100% removal of a glioblastoma multiforme tumor, there’s always a trace of cancer cells that remain, just waiting for an opportunity to attack again,” Williams said.

A cancer survivor himself, Hamilton has never completed a bike ride of this length or magnitude. He hopes to also attract friends, whether celebrities or not, to ride with him. Or to support the cause in any manner.

“Even to this day, I don’t believe I truly understand the magnitude of the ride I’m about to go on,” the 63-year-old Hamilton admitted. “To physically complete the 444 miles of the Natchez Trace Parkway is sincerely such a feat.”

So Hamilton has been working with Johnny Burrell, a Nashville-based craniosacral therapist and a record-holding cyclist.

” I am grateful for the experience of Johnny Burrell, who has taken me out to the most difficult portion of the Natchez Trace to check out my physical ability to handle it,” Hamilton added. “We rode for 44 miles and it went pretty well. Outside of that, I’ve been training on my exercise bike when limited by travel or weather, and getting out onto the Trace to practice as much as possible on my own. I am hoping and praying that I am strong enough to complete the ride.

“I know between Johnny and Scott Williams, both of whom have completed the ride, I will be in the best hands possible. And hopefully my nerves won’t get the best of me.”

Australia’s Jay Vine wins Tour Down Under

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ADELAIDE, Australia — Australia’s Jay Vine defended his overnight lead to win the Tour Down Under, the first event of the 2023 World Tour.

Simon Yates of Britain won the final stage and moved up from third to second place on overall standings. Vine came in second on the stage to secure the biggest win of his career in a stage race.

The UAE Team Emirates rider took the overall tour lead when he finished second in Stage 2 and third in Stage 3. He came into the final stage with a 15-second lead on general classification.

The 70-mile stage involved four laps of a 15.5 mile-circuit through the Adelaide Hills before finishing just beyond the summit of Mount Lofty.

Yates led the crucial attack on the ascent less than 1.2 miles from the finish, but Vine jumped onto his wheel and Australian Ben O’Connor also joined in.

O’Connor led out close to the finish line, Vine briefly passed him but Yates came over the top to claim the stage win. Vine retained his overall advantage and claimed the title in his debut appearance in the Tour Down Under.

The 27-year-old made his name in e-Sports before being signed by the UAE team after winning the academy program on the Zwift online platform. He won two stages of the Vuelta a Espana last year and the Australian Time Trial title.

“It’s pretty incredible to be standing here and wearing this jersey,” Vine said. “The way we drove that was first class. My guys were incredible.”

The final stage featured a breakaway of 13 riders but Vine’s UAE teammates led the chase by the peloton and put their rider in a position to contest the win.

Yates again rode an aggressive race but had to be happy with the stage win.

“We came Down Under with a lot of ambition. We put a lot into it and we didn’t come away with the overall but we can walk away pretty happy,” Yates said. “Obviously Jay Vine is a massive talent and the crowd will be happy with a local winner.”

France’s Coquard wins Tour Down Under Stage 4; Vine leads

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ADELAIDE, Australia — French cyclist Bryan Coquard won Stage 4 of the Tour Down Under for his first-ever World Tour win, while Australia’s Jay Vine retained the overall tour lead by 15 seconds with one stage remaining.

Coquard is a lightweight sprinter who has had 49 wins in a decade-long career but had never won on the World Tour until he cleared out near the finish to claim the 82-mile stage by a margin of about just over 100 feet.

Vine was among the leading group that shared Coquard’s winning time and who retained his lead on general classification over Britain’s Simon Yates and Germany’s Phil Bauhaus. The race concludes with Stage 5, which ends atop 2,329-foot Mount Lofty.

“It’s a long time that I’ve waited for this win, 10 years,” said Coquard, who rides for the French Cofidis team. “I never really expected and I’m very happy and relieved with this win.”

While the stage was flat and suited sprinters, it had its challenges. Cross-winds and occasional gradients made the stage difficult and confounded some riders.

After an early breakaway by Jonas Rutsch and former tour winner Daryl Impey of South Africa, the peloton broke into two groups with Vine and other tour leaders among the leading group.

The leading group stayed together around the last, sharp bend towards the finish and Coquard bided his time until his late sprint left other riders flat-footed.

“It was pretty stressful,” Vine said. “There was one point there, I thought we were going to have an easy day and I was happy, smiling, waving to families on the side of the road.

“Then, 45 kilometers in it was on and it was on until the end so it was a very hard day. There was a lot more calorie expenditure than I was planning.”