George Hincapie Interview
Thomas Valentinsen talks to Team US Postal Service rider George Hincapie about his expectations for this season, his past experiences, and hopes for the future.
First of all, congratulations on placing fifth overall in the Paris-Nice stage race last week.
You entered the race suffering from stomach problems and planned to use the race for training purposes. Tell us about how your goals evolved during the race. When did you realize that you would be able to go for the overall classification?
With 4 stages to go, I was in the final move with 6 CSC guys and Rebellin and Cooke. There I moved into 5th overall and then I thought: Even though I did not feel that great I could try and race for a good overall classification.
Compared to the same period last year you've performed very well early in the season. Have you done anything different in your training?
My training has pretty much been the same. I always train well. The only difference, I guess, would be is that this year we rode really hard in training camp. You can see that by the results of the team so far.
What kind of an impact do you think these good results so early in the season will have on your performance later on and has it caused you to modify any of your goals for the season?
I have always wanted to do well in a stage race like Paris-Nice, and felt like I could. This year I did it without any specific training for the race. I was just concentrating on doing well in the classics. I would like to try and go well in some of the stage races later on in the year as well. For now my main goals in the spring are Paris-Roubaix and
Lance Armstrong lives according to his motto "Make every obstacle an opportunity." In what way have you benefited from last year's illness as a rider?
Last year missing all of the spring races was very hard. When I came back I had a whole new passion and drive for the sport, and that was one of the biggest changes. You realize how much you love something when you are forced to be away from it.
You are set to take part in the spring classic Milano-San Remo on Saturday. What are your goals for this race?
We have a super in-form Van Heesvijk right now, so if we arrive together in the group at the finish, I will help him in the sprint for sure. MSR has never really been my race. My form is not quite 100 percent yet.
Besides yourself, who are your favorites for the race and why?
Bettini, Max, Vino, Rebellin, Petacchi, and Zabel. They are all riding really well now. And the course really suits them.
Max van Heesvijk has proven very strong this spring and he's expected to do well in Saturday's race. Tell us about how you've experienced his development as a rider.
I have not raced much with him this year, so that is difficult for me to answer. But the one race I did with him, I noticed that he seemed a lot more confident.
It is my impression that you focus a lot of your energy on the spring classics. Why is this, and where do you plan to make your move this year?
The spring classics are races that I love, and feel that I have a chance to win one of them. That is why I focus so much on them.
Do you harbor any ambitions to one day make a challenge for the World Cup?
Of course that would be great. It just depends on how the first ones go, then you can plan out the rest of the year. It is never easy though, when you have to focus on the Tour as well.
Does your role change within the team from race to race? If so, in what aspect?
Yes it does, if I am not riding well, I help the guys out, or if we are in a grand tour, I help the team. If I am going well, and it is a one-day race the team will help me.
You've been with the
When the team first started, we were all just trying to get any result. Any result would be good. Our main goal the first year was to be invited to the TDF. Now we go there for only one thing. We also have some of the best riders in the world now on the team.
Do you still live in
What is the training like there with all the other pros such as Lance Armstrong, Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis and Christian Vande Velde?
We are all on different training and race programs, so we don't train together that much. When we do get together it is quite fun, seeing all of the different pros. We have our own little peloton here.
What do you consider your best accomplishments in cycling both domestic and abroad?
Winning the national championships, Gent-Wevelgem, and being part of the winning Tour de France team for 5 years now.
Where do you see yourself after your professional racing career is over?
My brother and I have started a small cycling clothing company in the
The world of cycling was shocked when Marco Pantani passed away earlier this year. What are your feelings about the Pantani tragedy?
It was a terrible tragedy. We were all very shocked, and sad. My thought and prayers go out to his family and friends.
Do you think that his death will lead to changes in the cycling world?
No. Some people have made it their life goal to try and put cyclists' names in the mud, so they will never stop. We just have to try and do our job, and continue to inspire people who love what we do.
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions. We wish you great success on Saturday.
Roadcycling.com writers Dave Osborne, David Cohen and Ian Melvin contributed to this interview.