Reigning US Pro Road Champion, George Hincapie (BMC Racing) lost valuable training time due to a knee injury sustained weeks prior to the start of the USA Cycling Pro Road Championships which will be held in his hometown of Greenville, South Carolina, on September 18 and 19.
He is currently competing in North America's first two ProTour races at the Grand Prix de Quebec City and Grand Prix de Montreal and he is hoping to regain some of the form needed to win a second consecutive national title.
"My knee is fine, that is not the problem," Hincapie said. "The problem now is missed training and missed racing. My knee is totally fine now. I'm still behind where I need to be and I'm still hoping for a miracle in the next six or seven days to get me to where I need to be. I'm just happy that I'm able to race because 10 days ago I thought my season was over."
Hincapie injured his knee in a crash during the stage two road race at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. The injury forced him to take a 10-day recovery period. It was questionable whether or not he would start the pair of Canadian ProTour races.
"The two ProTour events were very important," Hincapie said. "They were the first ProTour races here and a very important goal of mine up until I crashed. So, I wasn't able to come into them with top condition which was unfortunate."
"I think they both suited me pretty well," he said. "I was definitely excited to come up and race them. They are held in great cities, beautiful downtowns. It should be a big part of the future of this sport. Both cities were spectator friendly and it was great to be able to race in big cities around the world and bring the best riders in the world to those events and cycling should focus a lot more on those events."
Hincapie noted that the pair of ProTour races were important for the BMC Racing team in gaining the additional UCI points needed to increase its world ranking. The strategy is in keeping with the sport governing body's decision to rank ProTour teams by the number of UCI points held by the top 15 riders on the team for 2011. BMC Racing is one of 14 teams that have applied for the remaining eight available ProTour's spots.
"For me they were good preparation for the US Pro Championships because I need to get some racing in," Hincapie said. "I am just starting back up from my injury so I want to get some racing speed into me and help the team out. But, being ProTour races these would be more important than the national championships are because for the team it was important to get points. Normally these would not be considered preparation races by any means."
Hincapie will end his season at the US Pro Road National Championships in his hometown where he would like to win a second consecutive national title. "It is very important to win another title," Hincapie said. "But at the same time it would be nice to see one of my teammates win as well and keep the jersey inside the team. That would be the ideal situation."
The BMC Racing team will enter a six-man team that includes Hincapie, Jeff Louder, Brent Bookwalter, Chad Beyer, Chris Barton and Chris Butler.