Hincapie skips De Panne for Flanders/Roubaix

By Gregor Brown in Harelbeke, Belgium George Hincapie will skip Driedaagse De Panne this week for...

By Gregor Brown in Harelbeke, Belgium

George Hincapie will skip Driedaagse De Panne this week for one of the few times in his 16-year career to be ready for his season objectives at the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix. The American of Columbia-Highroad, 2004 winner of De Panne, will pass a week at his European base in Spain.

"I think it is a bit too dangerous and there are too many risks there, I want to limit those chances," he said to Cyclingnews. "I have had a lot of racing and I have trained super hard this year. I prefer to go back to Spain and train in nice weather to be a little fresher for Flanders."

Hincapie finished eighth in the E3 Prijs Saturday. The race was won by Italian Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) after the winning move was formed by Hincapie's ex-teammate Tom Boonen (Quick Step).

Hincapie credits his strong 2009 season to his first ever season debut in the Tour Down Under in Australia. It appears to have paid off: he helped Thomas Lövkvist win Eroica Toscana, showed extremely well in both mountain and flat stages of the Tirreno-Adriatico and hand-delivered mark Cavendish to the win in Milano-Sanremo.

Though the rider from South Carolina has won in the Tour de France, he prefers the one-day Classics of Northern France and Belgium. He has battled with the sport's biggest names over the pavé in the past to earn third in Ronde van Vlaanderen, a win in Gent-Wevelgem and a second and two fourths in Paris-Roubaix.

"It feels good to be back in Belgium. These next races are obviously very important to me. I feel good and probably better than ever, so I would like to take advantage of that form to be at my top in Flanders and Roubaix."

He will ride the final 100 kilometres of the 260-kilometre Ronde van Vlaanderen Sunday. After scouting 14 of the 16 climbs, he will board a plane for Girona, Spain.

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