Go George

The other day, someone was taunting me on our local chat system. He said something to the effect of “If Pete is so down on cliché and repitition, why does he watch the Tour de France year after year when Lance always wins the same way?“.

First of all, in the years that I’ve watched the race, there have been four or five different winners (Indurain, Riis, Ullrich, Pantani, Armstrong). Second of all, while the three week race has been pretty much the same every year, every day is a different one day race. The race within the race is what makes the Tour interesting for me, even if the overall is following the same old script.

Consider two stages from this week.

In the first, we have an American named Chris Horner who gets into the breakaway and stays away for more than 100Km, only to be caught 300m from the line, just missing the stage win. Here is a guy who until this year was riding on some little-known American team for the last ten years and won a stage of the Tour of Switzerland to make the Tour de France team. In his first tour, he has managed not only to survive, but come within ten seconds of winning a stage, something that most riders spend their entire lives only dreaming about.

And, until yesterday, George Hincapie was one of those riders. Hincapie has been a support rider for Lance Armstrong throughout his current run in the Tour. In earlier years, he helped Lance through the flat stages, protecting him from wind and crashes, and just surviving over the mountains in the hopes of winning a flat stage late in the race. More recently, one noticed that George stayed on the front in the mountain stages for longer and longer periods of time, pulling Lance all the way to the last climb on many days. Every year, he seemed to get better in the big mountains.

So yesterday, Hincapie found himself 18 minutes ahead of the peloton in one of those breakaways that do not need to be chased. But instead of a flat stage, they were riding the hardest mountain stage of the Tour. In epic fashion, Hincapie stayed with the break, covered two or three different attacks, and was finally first over the line at the top of the last mountain. It was an incredible individual win for a rider who has always been the consummate team player. There is no one on Lance’s team who deserves it more than George. Bravo. Go George.

Notes

If you ever go to the Tour, don’t do what this moron did.