If the United States of America’s George Hincapie wins today’s Paris-Roubaix it would define his career as being perfect, according to the rider. Hincapie has never lifted Roubaix’s famed cobblestone trophy despite having contested the event 16 times.
Hincapie has enjoyed a love-hate relationship with the monument, coming close to winning in 2005 when he finished second. On the eve of this year’s race Hincapie described what appeals to him about the spring Classic.
“I’ve done it many times and it’s just a race that brings a lot of excitement to me and a race that I’ve always dreamed of winning. I think a lot of people feel sort of the same way as I feel about it,” said Hincapie. “I think just the fact that the race is so hard, so epic. It’s almost like it’s a battle; you really can’t even just call it a bike race. There’s so much that goes on in this race that the fans don’t even see.
“To me if you win one of these, if you win one Paris-Roubaix you can look back on your career and say always say ‘yeah, I had a perfect career’,” he added.
While it’s hard to miss the race’s importance to Hincapie, he denied a victory would bring his career to an immediate end. “No, no, no. But it definitely would make stopping a lot easier in the future,” he said.
On the eve of this year’s race Hincapie is feeling confident his form is where it needs to be to win Roubaix, despite Fabian Cancellara and Tom Boonen stealing most of the pre-race attention. Hincapie added that he expects to get a good night’s sleep, as he’s experienced enough to not let the nerves get to him.
“I feel really good,” he said. “Wednesday I felt okay at the race we did in Belgium, I took it easy there and I’ve been able to recover quiet well. Today I felt great on the bike so I just need some good luck, but I think my form is definitely there.
“There are only a handful of races I get nervous for and definitely Roubaix is one of them, but I still sleep fine,” he added. “I took a big nap about an hour ago, I know how important sleep is for recovery and for the feelings the next day so usually it’s not a problem to sleep.”
Known as one of the softest spoken riders in the peloton Hincapie admitted he has to drastically change his personality when lining up for the northern hell. He’ll need to muster every bit of that aggression if he’s to make the selection in today’s race, with dry, dusty conditions expected to be made difficult by an expected cross wind.
“I definitely change my personality; in the race when you’re battling on the cobblestones I don’t have any friends,” he said. “It’s only my team-mates I look out for, anybody else if they get in my way I have to do what I can to get around them. So it’s a big personality change for me. A lot of people don’t see that but it’s expected in these races if you want to race at the front you can’t be a nice guy.”