Hincapie announces he’ll ride just two more pro races before retiring from cycling
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Monday, June 11, 2012

Hincapie announces he’ll ride just two more pro races before retiring from cycling

by VeloNation Press at 10:24 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
End of the road beckons, but not before a record-breaking Tour participation

George HincapieEighteen days from what will be his 39th birthday, American veteran George Hincapie has announced that he will compete in just two more races before retiring from professional cycling.

The three time US national champion and former Tour de France stage winner has said that he weighed up the matter for some time, and has now made a decision; after the Tour de France and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, he’ll hang up his racing wheels and transition to life after the peloton.

Hincapie, who has raced at the pro level for 19 years and will start a record seventeenth Tour later this month, said that he had taken advice from many people, including his wife Melanie, prior to making his mind up.

"This is definitely not a decision that has been easy. I came to the conclusion that I want to go out while I can still contribute and make a difference,” he said. “To be able to compete for 19 years as a professional cyclist has been something I would have never dreamed of doing. But at the same time, it's also going to be good to spend more time with my kids, who are getting to be the age where they miss me when I'm gone."

Hincapie has been on the winning team in nine Tours, helping Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans to victory in the race, and also helping others such as Mark Cavendish to multiple stage wins. Briefly considered an overall contender prior to the 2006 edition, he clocked up four stage wins and also won races such as Gent-Wevelgem, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, the Three Days of De Panne and the Tour of Missouri.

He was US road race champion in 1998, 2006 and 2009, and said that he will retain his links to the sport. "I don't want to get completely out of cycling," he said. "My company, Hincapie Sportswear, obviously revolves around cycling. So I want to see it grow while putting in more time with the people I love.”

Before then, he wants to perform to the best of his abilities in his final two races. “I know that I'm still feeling strong and healthy and ready to make a contribution to the team these last two months. I'm 100 percent motivated to help Cadel win another Tour,” he said.

Evans took the race for the first time last year, and benefited from Hincapie’s workload and experience during those three weeks. His preference is that the American delays his retirement, but knows the final decision appears to have been made. "I'm hoping that he'll change his mind, probably like many other cycling fans around the world will do when they hear the news," the Australian said.

"George is incredible. He's the core of the BMC Racing Team and not just on the road as a captain, but also in the structure of the team. He's a part of so many aspects of everything we do because of his tremendous leadership."

Important role in development of BMC Racing Team:

Transferring to the BMC Racing team in 2010 after earlier racing with Motorola (1994 to 1996), US Postal/Discovery Channel (2009 – 2007) and High Road (2008 – 2009), Hincapie has been an important part of the team as it has developed into one of the biggest in the sport.

Team President Jim Ochowicz emphasised this role today in the team statement announcing the rider’s plans. "George was the first big rider to believe in the BMC Racing Team," he said. "He's led us through the past three years of the Classics and Grand Tour seasons as both a leader and a teammate. I am very proud that he was able to start as a professional with me on the Motorola team in 1994 and that I'm still with him at the end of his career. It's been an honor to bookend the career of one of the nicest people and one of the greatest cyclists America has ever produced."

The sentiment was echoed by Andy Rihs, the team sponsor. He wished him well, said he’d be missed, and hoped that he’d stay involved in the sport.

Hincapie completed the Critérium du Dauphiné yesterday, helping Evans to third overall. He’ll now continue his preparations for what will be his last-ever start in the Tour. It’s the end of an era for him and for American cycling, but he believes the timing is just right.


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