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George Hincapie to retire in August

Veteran American will call it a career after the Tour de France, USA Pro Challenge

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George Hincapie will call it a career in August. The BMC Racing veteran, a five-time Olympian, announced his retirement Monday morning.

“This is definitely not a decision that has been easy,” said Hincapie. “I came to the conclusion that I want to go out while I can still contribute and make a difference. To be able to compete for 19 years as a professional cyclist has been something I would have never dreamed of doing. But at the same time, it’s also going to be good to spend more time with my kids, who are getting to be the age where they miss me when I’m gone.”

Video: Hincapie on his legacy, being the nice guy in the classics >> Hincapie archive >>

Hincapie is one of the most decorated American professionals in road cycling, having guided Lance Armstrong (1999-2005), Alberto Contador (2007) and Cadel Evans (2011) to a total of nine Tour de France overall wins. Hincapie, now in his 19th year as a pro, is the top American classics rider of his generation and won Gent-Wevelgem in 2001 and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne in 2005. In 2005, he was also second at Paris-Roubaix and won two stages at the Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour de France. Hincapie is a three-time team time trial winner at the Tour and won a mountain stage at Pla d’Adet in 2005.

Hincapie was a key lieutenant for Evans at the 2011 Tour, when he delivered the first Aussie maillot jaune in Paris. Two years earlier, the American was closely involved in luring Evans to the growing BMC squad, then a second-division team. Evans said in a team release that he hoped Hincapie would change his mind.

“I’m hoping that he’ll change his mind, probably like many other cycling fans around the world will do when they hear the news,” said Evans. “George is incredible. He’s the core of the BMC Racing Team and not just on the road as a captain, but also in the structure of the team. He’s a part of so many aspects of everything we do because of his tremendous leadership.”

At BMC Racing, Hincapie rejoined Jim Ochowicz, the team boss who brought him into the pro ranks with Motorola in 1994.

“George was the first big rider to believe in the BMC Racing Team,” said Ochowicz. “He’s led us through the past three years of the classics and grand tour seasons as both a leader and a teammate. I am very proud that he was able to start as a professional with me on the Motorola team in 1994 and that I’m still with him at the end of his career. It’s been an honor to bookend the career of one of the nicest people and one of the greatest cyclists America has ever produced.”

If Hincapie makes his planned start at the Tour de France on June 30 in Liège, Belgium, he will set the record for most Tour starts, at 17. Earlier this year, he set the marks for the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.