Questions for the Classics – Hincapie?

Fotoreporter Sirotti

As we get set to begin the Spring Classics with tomorrow’s running of the 102nd Milan-San Remo, it’s the perfect time examine some of the important questions facing the major riders and teams during this year’s spring campaign. As each question is posted, feel free to share your opinions, insights, and predictions as comments—your commentary and spirited dialogue is always appreciated.

7. Can George Hincapie finally win Paris-Roubaix?

After years of trying, France’s Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle finally won Paris-Roubaix in 1992—at the age of 37. This year—at the age of 37—American George Hincapie will try once again to win the race that has tormented him throughout his entire career.

Supported by a talented BMC squad including Alessandro Ballan, Marcus Burghardt, Greg Van Avermaet, Manuel Quinziato, and two-time U23 Roubaix-winner Taylor Phinney, it’s safe to say that Hincapie will enter this year’s Hell of the North with more support than he’s ever had at his disposal. He’s also enjoyed a solid build-up, with nary a crash or a cough interrupting his training so far. Then again, we’ve said all these things before. But in a race where luck matters more than age, anything is possible—could this be Big George’s year?

Share your comments below.

About Whit

My experiences might easily fit many cycling fans' definitions of “living the dream.” Since getting hooked on the sport watching Lance Armstrong win the 1993 U.S. Pro Championship, I've raced as an amateur on Belgian cobbles, traveled Europe to help build a European pro team, and piloted that team from Malaysia to Mont Ventoux. As a former assistant director sportif with Mercury-Viatel, I've also seen the less dreamy side of the sport – the side rife with broken contracts, infighting, and positive dope tests. These days, I live with my lovely wife in Pennsylvania and share my experiences and views on the sport at Bicycling Magazine, the Embrocation Cycling Journal, and at my own site, Pavé.
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10 Responses to Questions for the Classics – Hincapie?

  1. Rich S4S says:

    If I believed in fairy tales I'd be all for it, and I'd love George to win it. In reality he's past his best & has had many good chances over the years. 2002, well he probably should have won it then, but a hunger knock and falling into a ditch put play to that. Also the year his fork snapped he seemed so comfortable then boom it was over. He's been plagued by accidents and bad equipment.

    He's strong, knows the route like the back of his hand, but and it's a big but he lacks the raw power of a Boonen or Cancellara. His best tactic would be to get a man up the road with him and try a break away. For me it's the under 23 winner Phinney that could be the key to hitting the top step. He could frighten a few, and may serve well as a distraction so allowing Hincapie to disappear, hide from the wind & pop out with 20km to go. I don't see it happening and I think George will close his career never a Roubaix winner.

  2. Andy Powers says:

    He'll never win it unless he changes the way he races it. His standard tactic is to sit in and wait and watch the race unfold which, if it works, means he arrives at the velodrome in a small group, but one that usually contains someone who can out sprint him. To win it he needs to be bolder and to make a move before any of his major rivals make their moves, but that goes totally against his instincts and, at 37, they are hard to change.

  3. Scott M says:

    NO !

  4. SQUADRA says:

    sadly for George Hincapie fans, i fear his best chances of winning a Classic Monument – Flanders or Roubaix,
    are now long gone.
    The April Classics are incredibly competitive, and with time passing, Hincapie's strengths have declined.
    He is no longer the rider he once was.

  5. soul_cramp says:

    While in my head I may know that realistically Hincapie's best chances at the Classics are behind him I still find my self cheering for him every spring.

  6. michael says:

    I actually think big george is better suited to a podium finish @ Flanders.

  7. Whit says:

    Great comments, everyone. While my head says it might not be possible, my heart will still be cheering for him.

    Thanks for everyone's great comments today–very much appreciated. Hope to see you tomorrow morning in The Feed Zone!


  8. Mattio says:

    I like the notion that maybe decades after he retires, we'll still be rooting for him. He can still shred a field – see what he did for Cadel at Tirreno-Adriatico? – so one's always inclined to think that maybe he's got a glorious, into-the-sunset ride left in his legs.

  9. big jonny says:

    Squada nailed it above. Gorgeous George no longer has the horsepower to win a Monument. He could always get lucky, lord knows he's been particularly unlucky at times. He's certainly earned it, a few times over. We'll see, of course, but I just don't see it happening for him this year.

  10. MattyVT says:

    It's not impossible, but the odds aren't in his favor. A selection similar to last weekend's Primavera could play to George's favor if there's some confusion and no clearly superior winner that can get away like Cancellara of yore. I do agree with Michael that Flanders does seem a more achievable target, but that's never been his focus so who's to say. At current course and speed he'll have great support, and I can only imagine how he would have done in years past with such a team at his disposal.

    Dirk Demol, Guesdon and Servais Knaven were all longshot winners, too.

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