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A quick chat with George Hincapie

George Hincapie (Discovery Channel)

George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) (Image credit: Sirotti)

Becoming the fourth American to wear the maillot jaune in Tour de France history was a pretty special accomplishment for Discovery Channel rider George Hincapie. After Hincapie's acquisition of the jersey on the first stage of the Tour, Brecht Decaluwé found out what it meant to him.

Q: Were you interesting in grabbing yellow at the start of today?

GH: Yesterday [in the prologue], I was really disappointed to miss out on the yellow jersey by such a small margin after a great ride. But I got beaten by a great rider. Today, I wasn't busy with winning seconds, but when we caught the breakaway, I saw an opportunity that I couldn't pass up.

Q: Congratulations with being the fourth American who gets the yellow jersey. You were close in the past but in 1998 you were as close as two seconds of grabbing yellow. Did you think about that?

GH: Those two seconds were the longest in my career... that was so hard. But I think I'm a much better cyclist than I was back then. Today, it wasn't actually planned to sprint for the bonuses but the opportunity arose. I worked super hard to start the Tour de France in great shape. I'm happy to turn around the disappointment of yesterday to a great day...

Q: How long do you intend to keep it?

GH: I'd love to keep it as long as possible, of course. It's really up to Johan [Bruyneel], I don't know if we'll try to control tomorrow. I don't have much time, and for me to sprint against Boonen and Hushovd... that's not really my thing anymore, All I've been training for is time trialling and climbing, so my sprint is slower, for sure. But if I could keep it for another day or two, that would be great.

Q: Has this put you in the position of leader?

GH: I don't like that term leader. Those are just words from the papers. I know what my ambitions are. I know I can take care of myself. I'm one of the best riders in the classics, like Flanders or Roubaix. So, for that, I can do that on my own, I don't really need a whole team behind me. I'm sure that if the occasion arises, I will get that role.

Everybody wants to see the replacement for Lance [Armstrong] but there's really no replacement for Lance, and I don't know if we'll see another Lance in our lifetime. We came here with different ambitions, we came here with a great team; and we just want to accomplish those ambitions.

Q: There was a lot of talk about doping, but now most riders just want to talk about cycling?

GH: Yes, I agree. We all worked hard to come here. It was definitely an unfortunate situation what happened. We all want a clean sport. Hopefully, we can turn that around to a positive thing. I know that I've worked hard to be here and I just hope that I'll have a good Tour de France. I'm not really thinking about that anymore.

Q: Major triumph today, but what about your crash in Paris-Roubaix?

GH: That was a huge shock for me. That day, I was in a great position with a group of eight or nine guys, feeling super good, super confident too. So, when I crashed it was a huge disappointment for me. But when I last thought about it, I've done eleven Tour de Frances, so to come out of that crash with only a little bump on my shoulder, I'm pretty lucky altogether because this [sport] is just so dangerous.

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