George Hincapie has spent the majority of his career on the US Postal/ Discovery Channel Team. Since Lance Armstrong’s streak of seven straight Tours, George was one of the only men to be on each of the Tour winning squads. With the structure of the Disco/Postal squads George was allowed to go for wins in races that suited him most. Paris-Roubaix was the big race that George always set his sites on but never quite seemed to have the luck or the killer instinct to win. If you were to knock Hincapie for anything it would be the lack of killer instinct to go for a win during a bike race or know when to make the killing move to win. For all of the talent that he possesses he would always miss out.
Sure he was bested by a young Tom Boonen when they were teammates and countless other lost chances. Meanwhile Hincapie would win a sprint here and there. Then he would take the US National Championship with the help of teammate in waiting Levi Leipheimer in 2006 and a mountain stage in the Tour of all things. The palmares were good, but for a guy like Hincapie they could have been better. Something was always missing. Hincapie did not have to fight and be an all out bike racer. He was on a very strong team and they usually had bigger goals. As a result his tactics were limited. How refreshing it is to see Hincapie be so aggressive in the Tour of California. His stage win on the final stage of the Tour was brilliant making moves as the entire break worked against him, counter attacking twice, but George simply came through for the win. Hincapie also initiated the chase down of Tom Zirbel who kept a slim 15 second lead for about two of the final three laps.
The new found aggressiveness is a trait often seen from frustrated cyclist coming into a new team. Hincapie was probably overdue to make a switch to new pastures. The young High Road team run by Bob Stapleton is a set of very capable racers who need some guidance from Hincapie to get correct tactics down during a race. Hincapie showed by example as he attacked day after day and finally won a tough stage. Will this new found aggressiveness translate into better results in the Spring Classics and particularly in Paris-Roubaix? I would say that Hincapie will probably have a better result this year than in recent years. As long as luck is on his side and his forks don’t crack.