VeloNation Interview: Hincapie psyched for stage win in Tour of California
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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

VeloNation Interview: Hincapie psyched for stage win in Tour of California

by VeloNation Press at 6:47 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of California
 
Hopes to bounce back from stage one crash

George HincapieAs the Amgen Tour of California heads deeper into the mountains, one rider who will hope for improving fortunes is BMC Racing’s George Hincapie. The 36 year old is instantly recognisable to the many fans lining the route, both because he is one of the best-known riders in the country, and also because he is clad in the unmistakeable colours of the US National champion.

Hincapie had a frustrating start to the race, crashing heavily with Tom Boonen in the finale of stage one, and then conceding one minute 17 seconds on yesterday’s second stage to Santa Rosa. He said afterwards that he didn’t feel good on the climbs, and put that down to the battering and bruising he suffered when crashing at 60 kilometres per hour the day before. He knows that the body will need time to heal, and hopes to improve as the race goes on.

Hincapie spent time before the event getting ready for one of his big goals of the season. He said then that things went well, and felt that he was in good form heading into Sunday’s opening leg.

“I was at home training with my new team-mate and training partner Chris Butler, the new phenom of American cycling,” he stated then. “It has gone well, I felt good at home, I trained really hard and had great weather. I hope I can get some good results here.”

As one of the most experienced professionals in the peloton, the multiple Tour de France participant has a good knack for assessing both the profile of an event and the competitors he must watch out for. In relation to the latter, four names sprang immediately to mind prior to Sunday’s start. “I expect the usual suspects to be up there – Leipheimer, Mick Rogers, Tony Martin, Chris Horner…I am probably missing a few,” he said. “The key stages are going to be day three to Bonny Doon, the stage to Big Bear, the time trial and possibly the last stage.”


Settling into the BMC Racing Team:

Unlike some riders who chop and change squads with almost-annual regularity, Hincapie has tended to settle with teams for several seasons at a time. He made his debut back in 1994 with the Motorola team, and remained there for three years. He moved to US Postal in 1997 and continued with that team plus its successor, Discovery Channel, until the end of 2007.

George HincapieIn that time he rode alongside Lance Armstrong for each of his seven Tour wins, and also picked up one individual stage victory plus a spell in the Maillot Jaune of race leadership.

The Discovery Channel squad came to an end at the end of 2007 and he then opted to try out a new role, becoming a key part of Mark Cavendish’s sprint train with Columbia HTC. In that time Cavendish picked up a huge number of wins, including ten stages in the Tour de France. The Manx rider credited Hincapie as being a very important factor in his successes, and was sad to see him leave the squad.

The New Yorker felt it was time to try something new and was keen to get involved with the new-look BMC Racing team, which is managed by someone he knows well, Jim Ochowitz. Things have worked out well. “The team is great,” he enthused, when asked by Velonation how he felt. “I am really enjoying being with the guys, enjoying the ambiance that we have. I think the organisation is great. The team staff and managers really run the team efficiently and make it a pleasure to ride for them.”

One of those he is racing with is Cadel Evans, and he said that it has been a pleasure to see the world champion perform so strongly. The thoughts of helping him to a big result is very appealing. “In the Tour, the main goal is to help Cadel win or to podium,” he explained, ready to do for the Australian what he did seven years in a row for Armstrong.

“He is showing that he will definitely be one of the favourites, one of the most feared riders there. I think that we will really need to focus on that. And if I see an opportunity, I would love to win another stage myself.”

On a personal level, he had been hoping to do something in the early season in cycling’s famous cobblestone Classic, but things didn’t go as planned. “For me, personally, I was disappointed with the way Roubaix went,” he admitted. “I was riding well before that and I got some decent results in Gent Wevelgem and Flanders. I just hope I can get a win pretty soon.”

How soon? Well, if things go to plan, it will be this week. “I would love to win a stage here in this race. In fact, two would be even nicer. That would be the ideal scenario, to win two stages.”

The early part of the Tour of California may not have gone to plan but, with several days ahead, Hincapie knows that he has time to recover from his early fall and bounce back. The quality of the field means that there’s no guarantees that he can spray the champagne, but if he does, the popular New Yorker will be the toast of a very supportive crowd.

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