George Hincapie Interview: Paris-Roubaix or bust
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

George Hincapie Interview: Paris-Roubaix or bust

by Neil Browne at 6:02 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Paris-Roubaix
 

With the first UCI race of the year in the books and training camp completed, BMC Racing's George Hincapie returned home to Greenville, South Carolina for a bit of rest and relaxation before he begins his Spring campaign. However, that relaxation will be short lived as his first European race of the season is set for the end of the month in Belgium’s opening weekend of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. Hincapie will then travel to Italy for Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo, before heading back to Belgium. Next on the agenda is Ghent-Wevelgem, which has been moved to a Sunday and lengthened this year, followed by the Tour of Flanders.

Naturally, these races are all a build up to the race where victory has so far eluded him – Paris-Roubaix. With seven top ten finishes in "Hell of the North" including a second in 2005, the American is part of the rare breed of cyclists that posses a passion for the cobbled classics.

Hincapie took the time to speak to VeloNation regarding his new teammates and how they will play a role in the team, his relationship as not only a rider, but also as a team sponsor, and what new technology BMC is going to be showcasing once the season is underway. Of course we ask the question that is on everyone's lips, “Are you going to win Paris-Roubaix?”
 

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VeloNation: You're back home from BMC's training camp. How does that compare to other training camps you've attended? How does it compare to the other bigger teams you've been a part of?

George Hincapie: As far as that is concerned, the team, the management and the organization is right on par with any other team I've been on. There is all the same sort of things that go on like all the other camps I have been to. We talk about equipment, schedules, and team technology. We were busy all day from core [workouts] in the morning, to training in the mid-morning through the afternoon and then meetings before dinner. I really enjoyed meeting all the new guys. The level of the team is going to be a much higher than most people expected.

VN: Cadel Evans has had a bit of a prickly relationship with the media in the past. It looks like he has embraced it with T-shirts saying, “Don't step on my dog” [what he yelled to someone as he tried to make his way through the crowd after the stage in the Tour de France]. What's your impression of Cadel?

GH: I had heard the same thing that everyone else had, but I was very surprised how easy going and laid back he was. In Australia he was riding awesome and we would have a beer after the stages. We got along great and were laughing during most of the race. I had a great time with him in Australia, as well as at the camp. Maybe he is more at ease now that he is the world champion. I'm looking forward to racing with him this year.

VN: Since we're speaking about personnel on the team, what kind of embarrassing information can you give me on John Murphy?

GH: [laughing] I don't know. We have been training quite a bit together this winter – nothing really popped up at camp. He looks really lean. I got on him early in the year that he needed to lose a little weight and he did. He's super lean and I'm happy how he has progressed. I think he is going to jump up a step this season.

VN: I heard through the grapevine that BMC U-23 rider Chris Butler was riding like a man possessed at training camp…

GH: Chris is someone we have been maturing these past couple of years. He is pretty new to the sport and was on our [Hincapie Sportswear] development team. We knew right away that he could go uphill really well. I trained a lot with him this winter and he has progressed tremendously. He has a tremendous work ethic and he never backed down on training. As far as being a climber, he is a natural. We are very happy that BMC brought him onto the team and now he is showing that talent to the team. He was climbing with the best during the camp and I think he will have a good year with the U-23 [team]. Hopefully we can bring him up to the pro team next year.

VN: Part of your role at BMC is not only rider but sponsor as well [Hincapie Sports is the official clothing supplier to BMC].

GH: I'm definitely trying to keep things separate. My main role is to integrate well with the team and get results. As far as the sponsorship related relationship, yes, I'm part owner of Hincapie Sports but I try to keep that separate. If the guys need something with clothes I will definitely pawn them off on my brother [Rich Hincapie]. I'll be that go-between sometimes, but I want to keep that separate as possible.

VN: You mentioned technology. BMC has a wide range of bikes for different situations and riders. What type of technology was BMC showing you?

GH: The equipment is all super high-end and they are researching the very best equipment for the Classics. For instance, I will have a selection of three or four different bikes in case it is muddy or dry or whatever the conditions are - we will be ready. Also, the [bike] computer we are using works using a new software where they can track our training rides, power, as well as speed and whatever kind of energy we are expanding. They are really on the cutting edge. It's not quite there yet, but the potential is really big.

VN: Is this through PowerTap or is BMC making this software program?

GH: BMC. They have a company they are working with in Switzerland. They have the beta version of the software out. I don't know how much they want me to talk about it, but we are using a PowerTap hub.

VN: At the Tour Down Under Cadel was riding strong. Did that surprise you?

GH: I knew he wanted to be riding well, but he was probably the strongest guy in the race. If you look at what he did at the second to last stage on the Willunga hill, which was the hardest stage, he rode away from everybody. Sure Sanchez and Valverde caught up to him, but he basically had to wait for them so he would have someone to ride with. I was really impressed to see how strong he was and he is nowhere near his peak fitness. If it all continues on the right path, he's going to be really strong this year.

VN: People are already putting together their list of top three in this year's Tour de France from Contador, the Schlecks, Wiggins and Armstrong. Where do you think Cadel fits in as being potentially on the podium?

GH: First the team needs to be selected. But if we get selected he is definitely a podium contender depending on how the tactics work out. Like you said, there are so many guys capable of winning it could make it tactically more interesting of a race. This could play into the hands of someone like Cadel.

VN: You can't be that worried that the team isn't going to be selected to the Tour de France?

GH: There are a lot of non-ProTour teams that are not guaranteed. It depends on who they [ASO] want to take. You would think they would take us, but you can't know what is going to happen.

VN: You have Alessandro Ballan on the team. How is that going to work out for the Classics? Do you have “dibs” on Roubaix or can you not have a designated leader at a race like that because anything can happen at any moment?

GH: We will go in with at least two leaders. Even [Marcus] Burghardt has ridden really well at Flanders [7th in 2009]. We will have cards to play and we are all pretty much in agreement that we will work for the strongest guy. In a race like Flanders it will be wonderful to have more than one guy in the final group. That way, we can play off of that.

VN: Is this the year that you are going to win Paris-Roubaix?

GH: Yes.

Random cobblestone riding tips

VN: At Paris-Roubaix, what tire pressure do you use?

GH: I'll probably run between five and a half and six and a half bars depending upon conditions.

VN: What tips do you have for riding the cobblestones?

GH: Stay loose, and don't grab the bars too tight. You need to be focused on the line in front of you and know what's around you- who is on the side of you, who is in front of you.

VN: Are there any other modifications to your bike for Roubaix?

GH: We use fatter tires, and some guys use padding on the handlebars. Everyone is different. I tend to run it pretty stock where that is concerned.

 

Hincapie's top ten finishes in Paris-Roubaix:
4th 1999
6th 2000
4th 2001
6th 2002
8th 2004
2nd 2005
9th 2008

Hincapie's top ten finishes in the Tour of Flanders:
4th 2002
10th 2004
7th 2005
3rd 2006
5th 2008

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