George Hincapie is one of the mainstays of the USPS tour team, and once again brings his customary steadiness, strength, consistency, and high style to Lance Armstrong's fourth bid for the maillot jaune.
There's always room for George on the Daily Peloton, and we checked in with him this week for a few pre-tour comments.
USPS has been strong all year! What's the feeling and morale like over there? How do you like your chances of defending the title?
The team is one if the best in years. Everybody is very motivated and strong. There is so much that can happen in a three week race, so we cannot let out guard down from day one. I feel like we are all ready.
Tell us about your role on the team on the flats, on the mountain days and in the time trials?
My role will be to stay with Lance Armstrong and keep him out of the wind; keep in front, when necessary, and also out of trouble. Chase down dangerous breakaways. TT days will be recovery days for me, except for the team time trial, where we will all have to put in a huge effort.
I feel stronger in the mountains this year, so I will try and help as much as I can there.
What is it like riding over those mountains? How do you manage that!
The mountains are hard for everybody, in the tour they are never-ending. I just try and do my work, then after that is done, get in a group that is doing a comfortable pace for me.
The most important is to try and be ready for the next day.
You've ridden the tour 6 times now, right? Does it get easier?
The tour never gets easier, It's always going to be hard. It's where stars and heroes are made. Everybody wants to win there, and over a three week race, there are chances for everybody, so that makes it more aggressive and harder for us to control.
Some days I am pretty dead, others I am OK, just depends on your recovery the night before.
What are the best and worst things about riding the Tour? What is the
hardest part and what is the most fun about it?
The best would be, the popularity of it. The fact that during the tour, Cycling is one of the biggest sports in the world. The Tour brings our sport the attention it deserves. The most fun would have to be riding on to the Champs.
The worst would be the stress and dangerous stages. The hardest would have to be chasing down all the attacks in the first hour of most of the stages, until a not-so-dangerous breakaway gets away.
With Jan Ullrich out, do you think it will be easier for you guys, or harder?
Like I said, the Tour never gets easier. There will be plenty of competition.
What's it like riding for Lance?
He is a true champion, expects nothing but the best from himself and the people around him.
Lance is so huge, and this race is a moment of truth for him and all of you. I can imagine that the pressure is enormous and the crowds will be too. What's it like in the thick of it like that?
I do not get to wrapped up in it, we know we have worked super hard and we are ready.
Pressure is just part of the job.
And don't forget the...
Everyone should immediately go cheer George on by visiting his website and leaving a message in his guestbook!