A veteran racer, USPS's George Hincapie has been racing a bike since 1987, and a professional since 1994. George's career highlights include 10 Junior National Titles, two stints on the US Olympic team, participation in 6 Tours de France, and a steady string of top finishes in the Spring Classics, and he only appears to be getting stronger and more focused every year.
This year he has been especially strong and shown an incredible consistency. There aren't many riders who could say that they'd been disappointed with a season that included podium finishes in the Classic Haribo and Volta ao Algarve, a strong 4th place performance in the Tour of Flanders, 3rd at Ghent-Wevelgem, and 6th at Paris Roubaix, but George Hincapie has that luxury, and he was riding for the win.
This year's Paris-Roubaix saw George take his 4th straight placing in the top 6 of the race he sets his heart on winning, and if there was anything that shone through in his ride that day, it was heart. George climbed back up from a devastating fall at the worst moment and hung on for a 6th place finish, running on empty. A performance like that is what sport is all about, and George's day will come.
Hincapie has long been a regular protagonist in Philly week, and has made a good showing in all three races. In 1998, he sprinted into the Stars and Stripes jersey, led out by teammate Frankie Andreu, against a 32 man bunch, beating Massimiliano Mori by half a bike length. That same year, he was second in the First Union Classic in Trenton, NJ. In 1999, he won in Trenton, and finished in the top 10 in Philly. In 2000, he was in the top 5 of both races, and last year he made the podium in the First Union Invitational in Lancaster, and the USPRO Championship.
The Daily Peloton asked George about his spring season, racing in the states, and who he'll be keeping his eye on in Philadelphia.
I read in cyclingnews that you're feeling tired, and declined Housatonic due to exhaustion! Are you well? How are you feeling?
My state of condition was not as bad as they said. I'm not sure who said I was suffering from exhaustion, but that was just not true. I was just coming off of my break, and I did not feel like I was ready to race yet. I am feeling fine.
Now that the spring season is over, what are your thoughts on your season
This spring was tough for me. I was very disappointed on several occasions, but looking back, I was stronger than I ever was and more consistent. I started off strong in February, and I stayed strong until the end of April.
I will just work harder next year, and make no room for disappointments.
You definitely were strong and consistent this season. Are there new ways you have approached your season on a mental level? I've read quotes from Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel talking about a new George this season, with more grit. What makes them say that?
I guess they just see a new me.
I have been racing for a long time as a professional, but I have started realizing in the last two seasons the potential that so many people have seen in me all along. When I am done cycling I do not want to look back and say I did not give 100 percent. I am very fortunate to be in the position that I am in now, being of the generation of Lance and the USPS team. We have been making history, and we are very motivated to continue to do that.
When I show up to the start of races, I know that I have trained as hard as I could have. I don't think it is possible that someone there has trained harder than me.
You've worn the US Champion's jersey before, are you itchin' to get it back? I've read that you and current Champion, Fred Rodriguez, are good friends; if you win, you will take the shirt off his back! Any mixed feelings?
I would love to wear the jersey again, and there is a lot of competition, not only Fred, so it will not be easy. My team is strong and we have several cards to play. Fred is a good friend, but we both now what our jobs are, and we both would love to wear that jersey again.
Who, besides Fred, will you be looking out for in Philadelphia?
I haven't raced in the states yet this year, so It's hard for me to say, but the usual suspects come to mind: Klasna, Horner... O'Bee seems to be having a great year as well. This is the biggest week in US cycling now, so there will plenty of guys who are going good.
I see that you're listed for all three races in Philly week, and I'm assuming Sunday is your main focus, but what do you expect from yourself over the whole of the week?
Obviously Sunday is the big day, all three races are hard, but Sunday is the most important. The first two races are going to help me get back into the rhythm of racing again, so it's hard to say how I will feel in them.
Do you look forward to coming back to the states for these races? Is the USPRO a fun one for you, even if it's tough?
I love racing back in the states. There is always extra pressure, but I look at that as a positive thing. It just means that I am one of the best out there.
When you say there's more pressure, what do you mean?
I guess I really don't mean more pressure, because there is plenty of that in Europe. It's just a bit different. Most of the time when we race here it is in front of close friends and family, so that just adds a different element.
Tell me a little about your back-up for the race. It looks like you've got a great team.
We have guys like Christian, who just started feeling good at the end of April, and then David Clinger, Tom Boonen... I am hoping Dylan and Chann recover from their injuries. Really, the whole team is strong. I am happy with who we have coming.
You've been riding bikes for a living for a long time- what do you love about your job?
Winning a race is really a great feeling. I strive and desire to win more, so I will keep working harder and harder until I cannot go anymore.
Every once in a while I run into someone who tells me how they go out on their local rides and think about me in my races and they go harder, or they just go a little further. Just knowing that I can inspire people, even in that way, means a lot to me.
I am truly fortunate to be in the position that I am in, even though it requires a lot of hard work and sacrifice. I never take it for granted, and I continue to love this sport.
The Daily Peloton wishes George the best of luck!
Catch The Daily Peloton's interview series on our USPRO Main Page, or click on the links below!
Interview Series: John Lieswyn
Interview Series: Trent Klasna
Interview Series: Dylan Casey
Interview Series: David Chauner
Interview Series: Kirk O'Bee
Interview Series: Chris Wherry
Interview Series: Chuck Coyle