George is one of the Pro Tours favourite riders amongst the peloton and fans. He is widely known as Armstrong’s Lieutenant throughout all seven Tour wins.
During the 2009 season it was rumoured that he was going to sign with Armstrong’s RadioShack team but instead signed with Team BMC riding alongside Australia’s own Cadel Evans.
We spent some time recently with George and talked to him about his new team, his new team mates, Cadel, Hincapie Sportswear and whether we will we see him at the Worlds in September. RC chatted to George for Bicycles Network Australia (BNA).
BNA: Early in the season you suffered from a virus, how’s your health now and has it hampered your training?
It was nothing significant. I was just a bit sick with a normal cold. It set me back a bit in the spring, but it was nothing serious. I’m feeling fine now.
BNA: Hincapie’s season has started off as he always has, racing the classics, 6th at the Tour of Flandres how’s your form right now?
I feel good. I’ve been training really well here in Greenville, South Carolina. I’m feeling strong. The weather has been awesome – 80 degrees Fahrenheit every day and I feel like I’ve recovered well from the Classics. I’m really looking forward to starting racing again, especially in the Amgen Tour of California.
BNA: George Hincapie was the BMC Racing Team’s best finisher at Paris-Roubaix but still a win of his favoured classic has eluded him. With seven top 10 finishes what is it going to take for you to win Paris-Roubaix?
It was tough ride this year. It was really disappointing because I felt better than I ever had but I then I kind of fell apart right there at the end of the race. I just need to have some luck and keep believing in myself.
BNA: Racing this season with the BMC Racing Team, what role are you playing in the team? How has the team come together?
I’m sort of the captain on the road. I’ll be the leader at some races, like the Tour of California. At other races, I’ll be the rider that the team really depends on to help Cadel Evans get through the tough sort of flat stages and the middle mountain stages. So I’ll be the guy making the calls along the road during the Grand Tours.
BNA: Hincapie Sportswear is the team’s clothing sponsor. Can you tell us more about your role with Hincapie Sportswear?
I kind of oversaw the designs, especially the creation of my U.S. national championship jersey, as well as the materials that we used and the fit. Once the season gets underway, stuff goes past me, my brother, Rich (Hincapie Sportswear co-owner) and Gavin Chilcott (BMC Racing Team general manager).
I wanted to make sure we had several different materials to choose from for the different weather conditions. Obviously, we race in several a lot of conditions throughout the year and I wanted to make sure our riders had a choice of what they could wear. For example, we have four different materials for our short-sleeved jerseys.
BNA: Is the pressure on the BMC Racing Team to perform now that Cadel is the World Champion?
Definitely. Cadel has been the best rider in the world now for the last couple of years and he’s having a phenomenal season. So anytime he’s at a race, we want to have the best team there and I’m looking forward to doing the Tour de France with him.
BNA: Cadel is riding well since the Tour Down Under, and with his 1st at Fleche Wallonne and 5th Li?ge-Bastogne-Li?ge is this part of the plan leading up to the Tour?
The Santos Tour Down Under was a great way to start the season. It was very warm, great racing, really nice place, nice hotel, good food and really nice people. It’s become a lot more exciting than your standard training camp. So we got off to a good start there and it’s just kept on going for him.
BNA: What are the team’s chances of having Cadel on the podium at this year’s Tour?
I think it’s very high. He’s been second there two times and he seems to be going better than ever this year. So I would say there’s a good chance, definitely.
BNA: As a BMC is one of the few bike manufacturer teams in the Pro Tour, what can you tell us about the bikes you are riding?
I have been alternating between the BMC pro machine SLX and the BMC pro machine SLR. The SLX is one of the stiffest bikes I have ever ridden. It’s perfect for anything up to the middle mountain stages. The SLR is a new bike that BMC is coming out with. It’s very light and very stiff and built for the higher mountain stages. I like the fact that I have so many choices to choose from during the year to race on.
BNA: What’s next for you in the season, will we see you in the US Worlds Team in Australia?
That I don’t know. I haven’t done the worlds in a couple years. It’s going to depend on how I recover from the Tour de France. I’m usually pretty tired at that time of the year. But never say never.
Thanks for your time and good luck this year.
Photos ? Tim de Waele