For seven years, George Hincapie has had the luxury of competing in his national championships right near his home in Greenville, South Carolina. But after this weekend, the race will move on to Chattanooga, Tennessee for the next two years at least. At 38, going on 39 next month, Hincapie will give it at least one more go to try and secure the stars and stripes jersey in his own backyard.
Coming off a taxing Amgen Tour of California, Hincapie told Cyclingnews that he was feeling good after not having great form during the Classics. "I feel as strong as ever. I've worked really hard after the Classics. I didn't feel perfect during the Classics so I worked as hard as possible the last five weeks to be ready for the latter part of the season: the Tour of California, nationals and obviously the Tour de France."
Hincapie won the US Pro championships in its first edition in Greenville, and in 2009 added another to his palmares to go with his 1998 victory in Philadelphia. Can he add a fourth title to his name and become the only rider to do so?
"I'd love to win again, it's always great to win at home in front of friends and family," Hincapie said. "At the same time, we have a strong team, albeit a small team for the race. I can see any of our guys winning."
BMC will line up in Greenville with Tejay Van Garderen, Brent Bookwalter and Hincapie, who will on May 28 compete in front of his home town crowd for the final time.
"It's always special to have the race in my own backyard. Sleeping in my own house the night before the race is always nice. We've had a great run, we've had it there 7 years. I'll be sad to see it go, but at the same time it's good for cycling in general to bring it to another community and to expose kids to the sport that we all love."
Last year, Hincapie was out-sprinted right at the line by RadioShack's Matthew Busche, and the disappointment of that surprising result is still with the BMC captain.
"That was really tough to swallow, I didn't sleep for a few days because of it. But that's the beauty of the sport, everything comes down to millimetres after a 120 mile race."
Hincapie admitted to doing some sprint-specific training over the winter to try and prevent that scenario from repeating itself this year.