By Daniel Benson
As Team Columbia's Majorca training camp drew to a close Saturday, George Hincapie spoke to Cyclingnews about his aims for 2009, with Paris-Roubaix squarely at the top of his list of priorities.
The American all-rounder won two races this year, but once again missed out on a Roubaix victory due to mechanical problems. "It's a race that I have unfinished business with, and in my opinion, there's nobody better than me in that race. It's just a question of how I finish things off and having good luck," he said.
"This year in Roubaix I was stronger than I've ever been in that race but I just had bad luck. That's what has always happened to me. I know I have a few more chances though."
Those chances could be dwindling for Hincapie, now 35, but he revealed that since his move from Discovery to High Road (which later became Columbia) he has become even more motivated as a rider. Taking on the added responsibility of the team's elder statesman has given the New Yorker added motivation as he has guided bright lights such as Mark Cavendish and Thomas Lövkvist through the year.
"When I get a number on my jersey, I'm always the first one to pin it on and to ride to the start. You can't say that about many riders my age. It comes down to team spirit and what we've built here. We're always laughing and the attitudes are lot more relaxed but when it comes to racing we're super focused."
"I have really close relations with the other younger riders. They rely on me a lot and I love mentoring them and helping them along. That's a really big part of my job now. Of course results are important for me, but passing on my experience is a real factor for me too."
The past year was full of success for Columbia, who racked up more than 80 wins including six Tour de France stages and a spell in the yellow jersey courtesy of Kim Kirchen.
However, Hincapie is under no illusions about how hard a repeat of that performance will be. "The pressure is really going to be on us next year. We went to races and we were winning nearly every day but I don't see any reason why we can't be just as successful or even more so," he said.