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Hincapie set to defend road title in hometown

Levi Leipheimer & his pal George

Levi Leipheimer & his pal George (Image credit: Mitch Clinton)

For the second year in a row, the US professional road and time trial championships are only open to Americans, and Greenville, South Carolina will play host to most of the top US racers in a battle to wear the coveted national colours for the next season. George Hincapie, the defending road champion, is back in his hometown -- but what will happen is still anybody's guess.

The fact that the US professional national championship for the road is held September, and not in June like most other countries, means that the tactics and outcome of the race could be affected by the inevitable transfers that are often inked in the weeks leading up to the race. Such was the suspected case last year with the final two riders left contesting the win, Discovery Channel's George Hincapie and then Gerolsteiner's Levi Leipheimer who had announced his transfer to Discover for the following season.

Despite denying that he was planning to help Hincapie, Leipheimer had been spotted receiving water from the Discovery team car. As well, CSC's Dave Zabriskie was known to have stayed at Hincapie's house in Greenville and definitely played a role in thinning the field up the Paris Mountain climb.

When taking this into consideration this year, with so much turnover occurring throughout the ProTour and domestic scenes, the guess as to who will ride for whom is as uncertain as who will pull on the stars and stripes jersey. Hincapie has been rumoured to be going to the T-Mobile team next year, something that team-mate Alberto Contador confirmed this week. And with no more Discovery Channel after this year, the motivation to work together will be much less.

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