United States of America Road Champion George Hincapie (BMC Racing) earned himself the Break Away from Cancer Most Courageous Rider jersey for driving a lengthy breakaway on the queen stage seven at the Amgen Tour of California. Hincapie attacked his six-breakaway companions several times before they were caught on the final ascent up to Big Bear Lake.
“The course was probably the hardest stage of the Tour of California up until now,” Hincapie said. “I saw early on that from kilometre zero that there were some strong guys trying to get away. Unfortunately two guys were not working too much because they had team obligations, which is totally understandable but on a course like this you really needed every one giving full gas. It was relentless with the wind all day and it felt like slow torture out there, very difficult.”
Hincapie and his breakaway companions rode off the front 16-kilometres into the day’s 217-kilometre road race. His company included Jason McCartney (Team RadioShack), Jakob Fuglsang (Team Saxo Bank) Matthew Wilson (Garmin-Transitions), Andy Schleck (Team Saxo Bank), Thomas Rabou (Team Type 1) and Stef Clement (Rabobank Cycling Team).
Not only did the breakaway face a daunting 200-kilometre trek to Big Bear Lake, it mustered the strength and courage to fight through the gusting winds and 14,000 feet of climbing.
“The wind was coming from all different directions today with head winds, cross winds, tail winds,” Hincapie said. “It just made the other elements even harder on a difficult course. Andy Schleck put a really hard pace on the second to last climb so I saw the some people were kind of struggling, as was I, but I decided to test out the group a bit and then take it easy up the next climb. Eventually they caught back but I definitely felt like I was the strongest guy in the group but unfortunately we didn’t make it.
Hincapie was proud to accept the Break Away from Cancer Most Courageous Rider jersey for one day. He participated in the second of two inaugural Breakaway Rides presented by Specialized held last month. The cancer awareness rides aligned with parts of the Amgen Tour of California courses.
“What Amgen does for cycling in America is unprecedented in the history of our sport,” Hincapie said. “To wear this jersey is important for me because I have been affiliated with the Breakaway from Cancer for five years. I think it is a wonderful cause and I think the fact that Amgen supports the cause, the Breakaway from Cancer, and allowing me to be their spokesperson makes me feel very honored. To be able to wear this jersey in a stage of the Tour of California is very special.”