Puts Flanders behind him and looks forward to Paris-Roubaix
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
Cyclingnews caught up with Discovery Channel Pro Cycling team's classics leader George Hincapie on the Monday after his solid result in Sunday's Ronde Van Vlaanderen. It was typical of Hincapie, truly one of the most personable pro riders anywhere to give us some time, even though we weren't sure he felt much like talking after a "disappointing" Flanders.
Admittedly "exhausted" after his determined seventh place at Flanders, Mr. Nice Guy Hincapie took some time out from relaxing with his wife Melanie and baby daughter Julia Paris after dinner to chat about his Flanders flop and his coming cobbled classics quests.
Cyclingnews: George, we saw you shake your head yesterday as you crossed the finish line in Meerbeke at the end of the Ronde. What did that mean?
George Hincapie: I was just frustrated; since I got the flu just before San Remo, it pretty much wiped me out for eight days. So being sick, I lost some confidence about my form. Last weekend, I rode a race [Brabantse Pijl] and I was just trying to get to the finish line. I was in no position to win. [Hincapie was 6th-Ed]. But I hadn't done more than a three hour ride in weeks, so it was a pretty good sign. Then I just took it easy at De Panne and didn't make any all-out efforts.
CN: Where were you at Sunday morning in Brugge?
GH: I had good legs but I wasn't 100 percent. The team was strong and this year was the first time I didn't have to do a lot of efforts to cover the moves. Our plan was that I would stay back in the first 20 or 30 riders and make a big effort on the Muur. So when the move went on the new climb, the Valkenberg, I was too far back. With guys like that [Boonen, Van Petegem, Klier], it's tough.
CN: How would you say you felt Sunday compared to how you were in 2002 when you were fourth?
GH: Oh, I felt better then; even on Sunday I decent legs and got a result. But it's not the best situation to get sick three weeks before Flanders. I had a temperature and then some respiratory problems and felt really weak. But I think I'm getting better now.