You are hereGeorge Hincapie visit and Interview
George Hincapie visit and Interview
During George Hincapie’s special visit and ride with the Green Arm Bandits and friends, George graciously answered any questions we had about what has been and continues to be a celebrated career of almost 20 years as a professional whose talent, strength, and determination is just as celebrated and coveted by cyclists everywhere. What is also for certain is that George is a modest and true gentleman who spoke more about his struggles during certain races than his many victories and accomplishments. The following includes a composition of some of the questions that were asked and the answers given by George during conversations on the night he joined us for dinner and on the ride the following day:
We knew George raced as an amateur in Central Park and there was talk on a popular NYC website, NY Velocity, that during races in Central Park, George would lap the fields with solo attacks. So, we wanted to get the story straight from George. Well, indeed it was true! Even though Central Park is more than 6 miles per lap, George confirmed that he and another rider, Mike McCarthy, would accomplish such amazing moves. George also added that his first time racing at Central Park was when his father, a former professional cyclist in Colombia, would bring him there at the age of eight years old. George was asked how his father was introduced to cycling and he said that in Colombia, it was either soccer or cycling, and his father chose cycling. We bet that if his father had chose soccer and George followed his father’s lead to become a soccer player, as he did a cyclist, George would undoubtedly be one of the most brilliant strikers anyone would see on the pitch. Read this great dailypeleton.com article to get a better idea of how much George’s father and brother, Rich, influenced him in becoming the cyclist he is today.
The Central Park races are some of the Bandits favorite races of the season, but we wanted to know if there were as many crashes as when George raced them in that the CAT 3/4 races seemed to always have 3-4 crashes per race. George remembers that while there may have not been as many crashes they were very aggressive.
Being that George is a native New Yorker and lived in Farmingdale, we asked if he ever rode one of the most popular and faster paced group rides on Long Island called the Early Birds which was started over 30 years ago. Unfortunately he hadn’t, but now he has experienced most of the same route when he joined the Bandits and friends for that special ride we will never forget.
When asked if there was anyone in the peleton who guided him through and gave him advice during races as a new pro, George indicated that Sean Yates and Steve Bauer were those guys.
During our group rides there are certain guys that we know who will take monster pulls, so we wanted to know if there was anyone he rode with that would do the same and might cause him to say to himself, “This is gunna hurt” when that person takes the front. Well, George responded by mentioning the whole team of Rabobank at certain races and also the climbers from Columbia when they would be at the front during a climb. George also mentioned an entire team, which we will not name here, when asked if there are certain riders he tries to avoid during races who are a little too sketchy for his liking.
To add a little humor, we asked if any pro riders have such a sweat stink that makes everyone go for a surge to get passed that rider or whether other riders simply let a big gap open behind the stinky rider just to get some fresh air. George, playing along, said yes, but he did not mention any names of course. Although George did add that some riders, to our amusement, smell even more because of the amount of cologne they use due to all of the attention that there is at the pre-race sign in area and for smelling nice after a race.
There is a name that we can repeat which is the guy who George marked as “the funny guy” in the peleton… and that funny guy is Mark Cavendish. While on the subject of the Manx Missile, we asked George about his winning lead-out of Mark on the Champs Elysees with 1k to go during the 2009 Tour de France and how fast he was going and if he has ever gone faster. George revealed that while no one had the data from that finale and was not sure how fast he was going, it was indeed the fastest he has ever gone during a lead-out. George pulls off the picture perfect lead-out from the flame rouge to the last bend where Mark Renshaw takes over to deliver Cav to victory.
We also got into the toughest race George could recall where he suffered more than ever before. George instantly exclaimed that it was Paris Roubaixin 2002 when he fell into a ditch, but then remounted with over 40k still to go. The race video shows him doing so in what were horrible road conditions, and yet, George still finished 6th which was amazing considering he expressed to us how badly he bonked and how it took 45 minutes after the race before he could even move to get changed and showered. George revealed that in these kind of intense moments of suffering during a race he stays positive by quickly thinking about how he has done it all before and thinks about the races he has won. George also revealed that some of the races he thinks about as having significant importance for him are his National Titles and his 2005 Tour de France Stage 15 victory.
When asked about other Paris Roubaix moments, George told us about the 2001 Paris- Roubaix where it was 4 guys from the same team (Domo-Farm Frites) against him in the finale. Although he covered many attacks, he finally let a rider from that team, Servais Knaven, get away because he Knaven he had the least chance to survive such a solo attack. George still finished 4th, knowing in a situation like that there is really nothing one can do when it’s 4 against one.
We all know the bunch sprint is the most hectic part of any bike race and it was on Stage 19 of the Vuelta a Espana in 1995 that George experienced the scariest moment of his career. He described how it was a downhill sprint and that he crashed into the barriers at 45 mph. Since we could not find anything on You Tube, we looked up an old Cycling News report and later found the live commentary from this occasion and have included an excerpt here:
The sprint starts, spread out across the road. Saitov leading with 200 m to go, Wesemann behind him, Baffi comes on the left. A Motorola Jersey, Hincapie on the right side. Wust tries to come up the barriers on the right, but there's no room. He collides with Hincapie and bikes go flying. Saitov on the front, Baffi coming -- the whole field shifts to the left to avoid the crash. Wesemann is on Baffi's wheel. Saitov pulls out of his pedal with less than 50 m to go, he has to sit back down and one leg it as Baffi pulls by for the victory. Looked like Saitov held on for 2nd, Wesemann in third, and another Motorola rider in 4th, but no official results given.
Wust and Hincapie are both down. Now Wust is up, looks a little shaken, but ok. Hincapie still down, but after a while he is back up. His helmet is being carried by one of the people next to him. The front has a big chunk ripped out of it and I imagine he'll have a headache for a while, but he looks to be ok as well. It looked like he went headfirst into the barriers. If anybody else wants to comment I'll welcome it, but it looked to me like Wust was looking for a hole that was simply not there.
Now that George resides in Greenville, South Carolina, we were curious as to who George trains with whenever he is home. George mentioned that he rides with a few pros from the area, one of them being 23 year old teammate, Chris Butler, who George marked as a rider to look out for in the future who may not yet be on the radar. George also shared that he primarily does core strengthening exercises to compliment his 6 hr road rides which includes 2 hours of motor pacing. Tennis is another sport that George loves when not on the bike and follows all the top guys who play such as Novak Djokavic and Rafael Nadal.
George is all set to ride another season for BMC and even shared with us his schedule for 2012. He indicated that his first race will be the L'Eroica (Strade Bianche) in Italy, Tirreno Adriatico, "The Classics", the Tour of California, the Nationals, Tour de Suisse, the Tour de France, and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado. By starting the Tour de France in 2012, George will be the only rider to compete in 17 Tour de France races and shared that this is one of his big objectives before he retires which would most likely be at the end of his 2012 season.
So, with George’s professional career soon to set, we wanted to know what he would miss and not miss the most about racing. He said that he would miss the adrenalin rush at the finish line and all the fans. But what he would not miss is the stress and hectic schedule he keeps during race season…and even in the off season. After his ride with us, he was off to the airport later that day for a team meeting in Italy to discuss training camp and the upcoming season, then to France for the Tour de France presentation, and then back to the States for his charity rides in Maryland and South Carolina.
As a rider who has been around the best of them for years, who is one of the best in the peleton himself, we were sure to ask George which riders he was in awe of who he thought were just amazing riders. George named three riders: Lance, Alberto, and Cadel (By the way, George helped all of them win the Tour de France as a teammate for a record combined total of 9 overall Tour wins…more than anyone in the history of the sport). George even added that Cadel has the ability to withstand those moments of suffering more than anyone he knows. Then, as we rode in awe of him there was one last question for George: Who was the rider you could not believe you were riding with early in your career? That rider was Sean Kelly. I think we have an idea of how George felt after having him join us for that special ride.
Big thanks to Big George for accommodating the Bandits and friends and for all the memories never to be forgotten. Good luck to him in 2012 and beyond!