Sixteen years after his first participation in Gent-Wevelgem, George Hincapie added his sixth top-five performance at the Belgian race when he finished fourth on Sunday. The BMC captain rode strongly throughout the day and entered the final 10 kilometres of the race as part of the six-rider group that contained race winner, Bernhard Eisel (HTC-Columbia).
Despite his apparent strength, the 36-year-old Classics stalwart admitted afterwards that he is still to reach peak form after several bouts of illness already this year. "I didn't have super legs today, but I can feel my form's coming back," said Hincapie. "After Tirreno-Adriatico I'm slowly getting back to where I should be."
Hincapie has now completed the event 13 times since 1994, with an enviable record of six top-five finishes, including victory in 2001. Heading into the final kilometre today in the company for former team-mate, Eisel, and Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Hincapie chose to open the sprint early in the hope he could get the jump on his opponents.
"I knew that Eisel was watching Gilbert," explained Hincapie of his move 400 metres from the line. "I wanted to risk it and see if one of them would let me go, but I didn't have the gas for the final metres."
Hincapie was one of a number of the top-placed riders to comment on Matti Breschel's (Saxo Bank) puncture as the race made its final approach into Wevelgem. "That was unfortunate," he said. "In my opinion Matti was the strongest guy in the race."
Hincapie will continue his 2010 Classics campaign next weekend at the Tour of Flanders.