His teammates are jokingly calling him Briek Schotte in training but George Hincapie knows that he has a serious chance of making history on Sunday if he finishes the Tour of Flanders. The American is currently tied with the late Schotte on 16 Ronde finishes and at his team’s press conference in Kortrijk, he played down the monumental achievement, only cracking a smile after team leader Philippe Gilbert stopped proceedings and called for a round of applause for the American.
“It’s an honour to have been around the sport for so long and from the first day I turned professional I knew I had to work hard and I was super excited to sign my first pro contract and I’ve never taken it for granted since then and I’ve done everything I can for the sport,” Hincapie said.
“There’s nothing harder than the Tour of Flanders. The first time I was super excited to be part of it. I still get goose bumps on the start line. It’s a real battle and there’s no other race like it on the calendar. Unless you do the Tour of Flanders people really can’t understand or appreciate how hard it is. So for me it’s just an honour to be part of the war and the battle so to speak. Hopefully we have a great success day on Sunday.”
Hincapie’s race is a sub-plot to BMC’s overall race. With Gilbert and Hushovd seemingly lacking form, the responsibility for a result may rest on the shoulders of Alessandro Ballan and Greg Van Avermaet but Hincapie has racked up three top ten places in Flanders – two in the last two years – and his consistency could be BMC’s saving grace come Sunday. In a team stacked with superstars it could be their 38-year-old veteran who saves their blushes.
“At the start of Tour of Flanders I always feel like I get a little bit better. I’m just so motivated for races like the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. So I’m banking on that this year and to have a couple more percentage points in the legs and help theses guys. These guys are the best in the world at what they do. It’s a real solid squad.”
In this video Hincapie talks about Flanders, it’s important to him and his thoughts on the changed 2012 route.