Were it only dependent on the wishes of his fans, BMC captain George Hincapie would have won this year's Paris-Roubaix with minutes to spare but alas, it wasn't to be. Hincapie finished a disappointing 29th place in the event's 108th running but at least he wasn't plagued with some of the equipment demons that have haunted him before.
BMC provided the current US national road champion with another stars-and-stripes version of its latest TeamMachine SLR01 flagship, specially modified with longer fork legs and extended stays out back to provide both a longer and more stable wheelbase plus additional clearance to fit high-volume tubular tires. Additionally, built-in flex zones in the fork, seat stays and seat post prompted Hincapie to describe it as being "awesome on the cobbles" the Sunday prior while the enormous down tube and meaty chain stays presumably kept it efficient while pedaling, too.
Hincapie notably abandoned his old ways in terms of rolling stock, trading in his usual deep-section carbon wheels for tried-and-true box-section alloy tubulars. While team sponsors Easton and Continental generally provide Hincapie and his teammates with more than capable gear, Paris-Roubaix's unique demands prompted a brief jaunt outside the box. Laced around the sponsor-correct Campagnolo Record hubs were Ambrosio Nemesis rims (with big Easton decals) and wrapped around them were blacked-out FMB Paris-Roubaix Pro tubulars in a floaty 27mm width.
Hincapie did run his usual Easton EC90 Aero carbon wheels at the Ronde van Vlaanderen, though, which is no walk in the park equipment-wise, either.
"[Interchangeability] played as a big a factor in it as well as just sticking with the tried-and-true formula," team mechanic Ian Sherburne told us before the race. "He ran the deep carbons at Flanders last week and really liked the setup. He actually went straight into a curb and the wheels were perfectly round and true. He said he even stopped pedaling because he assumed he had wrecked both of his wheels. But he kept going and the wheels were good.
"But for Sunday, having all the team members on the same wheels was a big factor since support is difficult from the car."
Even so, BMC was well prepared to just about any situation as Hincapie had a total of five spare bikes – one on every team car – including a full-blown 'cross bike in the event of muddy conditions.
Other suitably conservative gear included the forged Easton EA70 stem and matching EA70 alloy bar, an AceCo K-Edge chain watcher with custom stars-and-stripes graphics, Paris-Roubaix edition Speedplay Zero pedals with stainless steel spindles, sealed Gore Ride-On cables and housing, and a pair of stout Elite Ciussi Gel bottle cages.
Gearing was typical Paris-Roubaix as well, comprising 53/44T chainrings on Hincapie's Campagnolo Record crankarms and a tight 11-25T cassette.
Total weight was an impressive 7.80kg (17.20lb).
Hincapie was obviously less than pleased after crossing the finishing line. "I was having a hard time following the accelerations and I basically ran out of fuel," he said after the race. "I just wasn’t firing on all cylinders today."
Diehard fans aren't likely to be dissuaded, though, even after Hincapie's defeated tone. Another year, perhaps?