George Hincapie’s European debut for BMC Racing Team didn’t get off to the finest of starts with the US national Champion finishing well down in 67th place at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. However, after suffering from illness for the last week, Hincapie was happy to use the Belgian semi-Classic as training.
"I felt pretty horrible out there," Hincapie said at the finish. "I’ve felt sick all weekend. I’m getting better but my body has certainly paid for being sick."
Hincapie signed for BMC in the winter after riding for HTC-Columbia for the previous two seasons and will spearhead BMC’s Classics campaign with Marcus Burghardt and Karsten Kroon. However BMC’s highest place finisher today was Michael Shar who finished in 18th place.
"It’s good to get the first race in over here," Hincapie said, looking at the positive side. "I’ve not raced for month so it was nice to be back and riding with the new guys."
"We get on really well and the ambiance is good. We’re a new team trying to break in. Obviously some of the guys have been around for a long time but we’re trying to make our mark here and these early races are just mainly for the guys to get the team tactics down."
As well as being below-par due to illness Hincapie had to endure mechanical problems at the start of the race. Despite the series of minor setbacks he will be hoping to build his form for the biggest Spring races, including another crack at Paris-Roubaix, his favourite race.
"Today was tough just because it was a hard race from early on. I had a problem with my bike in the beginning but Marcus was really strong and we’ll see how the rest of the Spring goes from here."
After racing Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne tomorrow Hincapie will take part in Tirreno-Adriatico next month.
BMC’s Cadel Evans enjoyed a more successful day on Saturday. The World Champion finished in the lead group and placed fifth in GP dell'Insubria-Lugano, won by Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis).