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US champion George Hincapie (BMC Racing) rides along side Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) during the opening stage of Tirreno - Adriatico.
US national champion just made it to the start in Italy
George Hincapie was wrapped up in his stars-and-stripes BMC Racing kit to fight the cold and rain at the start of stage one of Tirreno-Adriatico, but the 36-year-old American was just happy to have made it to the start.
A snowstorm in southern Europe meant he missed a flight from his base in Girona, Spain on Monday and he only made it to Italy on Tuesday afternoon after battling through a blizzard with some special help from a friend.
"I tell you, I had a mission to get here in time for the race," Hincapie told Cyclingnews at the start in Livorno.
"The whole of Girona was shut down because of what looks like was the blizzard of the century. But somehow I made it. I managed to get out due to having good connections.
"I was booked on three different flights. The first one from Girona was cancelled then I was able to get a ride to Barcelona with a long-time friend of mine. The roads were blocked but he got me there skirting in and out of traffic."
Hincapie finished 5:09 behind stage winner Linus Gerdemann (Milram), in a group that also contained Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) and Oscar Freire (Rabobank), after he suffered a late puncture. However, after being ill following his return to Europe and suffering at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, he is happy to be healthy and racing again.
"I need to race. I was sick before Het Volk and I'm perhaps a little bit behind, so I was worried about missing this race and getting into trouble," he said.
"I had a cold flying to Europe. It got worse and I was really left without any energy that weekend. But I'm still glad I went up there. I suffered but it was good to get the feeling back of what it's like to race in Belgium.
"I'm healthy now and it'll be good to get a block of racing in here and hopefully get into top form for the Classics."