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Recently watched a TV segment on George Hincapie. Filmed when he was still wearing Disco kit, so it must be a little old, but anyhow it was new to me and interesting..

It ran down his early career, including a mention of his first try at nationals in Boulder, Co. I guess he got his butt kicked, one of his first losses ever. In the documentary, showing him being honored by Greenville, NC...his neighbor mentions helping George realize that his 'problem' with being a climber on the bike likely stemmed from that long ago 'traumatic' defeat at altitude in Boulder.

She tied his stage win in the Alps in the TDF to his 'revising his self-image' as 'not a climber' after realizing that he'd been handed his a** about 15-20 years ago. She says Georgie put aside his own belief that he couldn't climb and DID climb. He now seems to climb pretty well for a big guy, huh?

Interesting..
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Gnarly 928 said:
She tied his stage win in the Alps in the TDF to his 'revising his self-image' as 'not a climber' after realizing that he'd been handed his a** about 15-20 years ago.
Not to discount the tactical situation of that win. :rolleyes:
 

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I'm far more inclined to believe that Hincapie's problem with climbing was that he deemed himself a sprinter for at least the first half of his pro career. That's what he trained for, and those were the races he tried to win. He never had the top gear to beat the top guys of that era such as Super Mario, but he was never that far off. He did win Gent-Wevelgem, which every respectable sprinter wants to win.
 

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mohair_chair said:
He never had the top gear to beat the top guys of that era such as Super Mario, but he was never that far off. He did win Gent-Wevelgem, which every respectable sprinter wants to win.
I thought Hincapie's rep as a sprinter came from his early career because I can't recall him ever being competitive in Euro field sprints, even to the point where you might even consider him a "sprinter". Although I may be mistaken wasn't his G-W win a solo breakaway?
 

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Dwayne Barry said:
I thought Hincapie's rep as a sprinter came from his early career because I can't recall him ever being competitive in Euro field sprints, even to the point where you might even consider him a "sprinter". Although I may be mistaken wasn't his G-W win a solo breakaway?
His GW was a two-up bike throw photo finish, as I remember. Wasn't it against Leon Van Bon, riding for the ill-fated Mercury team?

I'm not sure Hincapie was ever taken seriously as a sprinter by the Euros, but he always seemed to be up near the front in the sprints. Whether it was some no-name race or MSR, he was always coming in 9th or 10th place. He was a factor in the first week of the 1998 tour, when he was 2 seconds from the yellow jersey for a number of stages, but could never take back the time on O'Grady (???).
 

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In the famous Frankie Andreu - Jonathan Vaughters text message exchange, they too question how it was that Big George all of a sudden developed into a strong climber...the implication was that his help went beyond an improved mental outlook.
 

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I'm with Pablo... where's the evidence that GH _ever_ became a strong climber?

- not the TdF stage win, where he sat on a day-long break and sprinted away at the end
- not the US nat'l champs, where the climb wasn't really that big and he had future teammate Levi to pull him up the hill
- not the TdF domestique days where he was used on the early climbs to save the legs of the "real" climber domestiques, and was only asked to ride tempo.

Am I missing any?

(not to dis George, who is a really strong rider and gets way more abuse than anybody deserves)
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Creakyknees said:
- not the TdF domestique days where he was used on the early climbs to save the legs of the "real" climber domestiques, and was only asked to ride tempo.

Am I missing any?
Well I seem to remember a least a few times in the Tour despite spending copious amounts of time on the front that he was still able to set the pace on the final climb until shockingly few riders were left.

I think this formed the basis for the belief that he could play a role in the Tour GC after Armstrong retired. Of course we all know what happened in the interrum and I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that he was never as well "prepared" as he was when Lance was motivating him :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Maybe he 'fancied himself' as a sprinter because of his early career loss in that climbing Nationals race..dunno. And I'd guess even sitting on a whole day (which I don't recall him actually doing) to 'steal' the win on Alp du Huez...that still makes him appear as a better than average climber, eh? Or else it would have been a bunch sprint at that summit, eh?

I often wonder about a rider's true potential. What would have happened had things been a bit different. Which of those Disco riders might have been even stronger if Lance had not been there to use em up.

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NCRoadBeginner said:
In the famous Frankie Andreu - Jonathan Vaughters text message exchange, they too question how it was that Big George all of a sudden developed into a strong climber...the implication was that his help went beyond an improved mental outlook.
:idea: :idea: E P O????
 

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I think the bigger question that George highlights is, what makes a rider a great "climber" or "sprinter" or "stage racer".

It's not build, capacity, genetics, though all of those are required. The difference is in the head. Mental state, Will to Win, toughness, mean ness, killer instinct. Some guys have it to a greater degree than others.

I'm reminded of a great quote by Alexi Grewal, something to the effect of "Davis Phinney loves to win. I burn to win." Sure, Phinney won a lot more races, likely becuase of his physical makeup being really suited to American crits and sprinting. Alexi didn't have as many suitable races, but he was able to win quite a few anyway.

I'm sure George likes to win. But after watching him for so long, it seems he's more _surprised_ to win than anything else.

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bas said:
:idea: :idea: E P O????
Actually if we're going to speculate, it makes a lot more sense that EPO was being used by pretty much everyone up until the test became available. Blood transfusions would seem to be the far more likely explanation and is supported by the Andreau/Vaughters IM thing as well. I doubt there were too many other teams blood doping their domestiques.
 

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Dwayne Barry said:
Actually if we're going to speculate, it makes a lot more sense that EPO was being used by pretty much everyone up until the test became available. Blood transfusions would seem to be the far more likely explanation and is supported by the Andreau/Vaughters IM thing as well. I doubt there were too many other teams blood doping their domestiques.
True that.

Kessler and Mancebo started climbing very well too...and we know their secrets.
 

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bas said:
:idea: :idea: E P O????
umm... EPO eggheads do your research: Its not like George whooped the competition up that last climb in the alps... He had an 8:35 second head start at the base of the climb, and Basso/Armstrong, etc... made up 3:30 on George in the last climb. They made up 3.5 minutes in the last 6 miles.

Not taking anything away from his win, but he wasn't the fastest climber up the Pla d’Adet that day.
 

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Can't speak for others but that's not the performance I was thinking about when thinking of his "unbelievable" climbing ability, nor do I think it was the topic of the infamous IM exchange. I may be mistaken but I thought the Vaughters/Andreau exchange predated Hincapie's mountain top win?

Somebody could figure it out if they're willing to take the time to look the information up.
 

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Dwayne Barry said:
mohair_chair said:
His GW was a two-up bike throw photo finish, as I remember. Wasn't it against Leon Van Bon, riding for the ill-fated Mercury team?QUOTE]

That sounds right. Maybe he was a sprinter, Van Bon had a decent kick :)
Hincapie had some good sprint results early in his career - he was never a TDF sprint winner, but when he was young, he was competitive with the O'Grady level sprinter if not the Cipo and Zabels.

He has always been a superb small group sprinter - the type of rider that when he finds himself in the winning break, there probably won't be anyone who can outsprint him. He's a lot like O'Grady in that aspect. The GW win was right out of that mold. Interestingly, the following year, he made the winning break in GW again, but Cipo and Fred Rodriguez were there... and both outsprinted him.

He has won in bunch sprints in Europe as recently as 2005 as well:
http://www.cyclingnews.com/road/2005/aug05/GPplouay05/?id=results/GPplouay052
 
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