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Tour de France Preview: Americans to Watch

George Hincapie (BMC)

2011 Tour de Suisse, stage 7: George Hincapie. Photo: Graham Watson | www.grahamwatson.com
Hincapie tuned up for the Tour at the Tour de Suisse. Photo: Graham Watson | www.grahamwatson.com

Long gone are the days when Hincapie’s name was bandied about as a potential GC contender. His former Discovery Channel team tried pushing that story line in the wake of former teammate Lance Armstrong’s first retirement in 2005, but Hincapie ended up a distant 32nd at the Tour in 2006.

This year, Big George will be charged with a more familiar role, supporting a potential GC contender, in this case BMC teammate Cadel Evans. And assuming nothing happens between now and July 2, Hincapie will also earn the distinction of tying Dutchman Joop Zoetemelk, who started a record 16 Tours de France in the 1970s and ’80s.

Until recently, it seemed likely Hincapie would race this year and one more, allowing him to break Zoetemelk’s record. But a recent report on 60 Minutes alleging that Hincapie admitted to a grand jury that he and Armstrong provided each other doping products while they were teammates in the early 2000s could potentially accelerate the 37-year-old’s retirement plans.

Hincapie has denied he spoke to the TV show’s producers (the show did not say he had), but, notably, he has not specifically denied that he confessed before the grand jury.

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