By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Greenville, SC
Hometown boy George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) led a group ride from his home outside of town with some of his fellow ProTour riders - Dave Zabriskie (Team CSC) and Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) - showing them the course for Sunday's USPRO road championship. Also on the group rider was new Discovery DS Viatcheslav Ekimov, Steve Johnson (USA Cycling CEO) and Saul Raisin (Credit Agricole) who just last week got back out on the road from injury.
Hincapie said that the ride was just a friendly pre-race ride and that there are not any formal plans to work together tomorrow, but he did acknowledge that tomorrow will be a tough for them. "We are definitely outnumbered but we all want the jersey so much," he said at a pre-race event in downtown Greenville. He also gave his preference for how tomorrow should go. "We haven't had our meeting yet, but hope that there isn't a big breakaway without me in it!"
Leipheimer said that working together with the other ProTour Americans might be a possibility for when the race makes its selections. "I think it definitely could be a possibility, maybe the middle part of the race," he said. "We kinda cancel each other out here -- it would be silly for us to take each other out of the race."
The sight of Saul Raisin back on the road in his Credit Agricole team kit was a marvelous sight. Saul was present at the pre-race event as well, with many fans cheering him on as he works his way back to racing. "I was a quadriplegic for about a week, and they said I might not get my balance back," he said. "But I was riding the trainer so much, and then the rollers, so I knew I could rider out on the road again at some point."
When asked who he thinks will win the stars and stripes jersey, Raisin replied, "Well, it will be me next year!"