By Andrew Hood
George Hincapie, who roared to a best-ever ninth place in the Clásica San Sebastián race in northern Spain on Saturday, confirmed he’ll start the U.S. national championships next month.
The Discovery Channel captain told VeloNews he will race in next week’s ENECO Tour in Holland (Aug. 16-23) and end his season with the U.S. national championships September 3 in his adopted hometown of Greenville, South Carolina.
Hincapie won the U.S. title in 1999, but hasn’t raced in the event since. USA Cycling has switched the race from its traditional June date to later in the season, in part to attract top European-based riders of Hincapie’s stature who were hesitant to make a big trip back to the United States so close to the Tour de France.
“We’ll see how the legs recover. It’s a good race,” he said of the ENECO Tour. “I’ll probably just do the road race [at the national championships].”
After recovering from his hard effort at the 2006 Tour de France, Hincapie said he’s still optimistic he can put a nice finishing touch on his 2006 season.
“I am pretty tired after the Tour. The first two weeks after the Tour, you can’t do anything. I did a few criteriums and went to Portland for a quick trip home for a MS 150 ride and then went to Dijon (France) to hang out with my wife’s family,” Hincapie said. “This week, I started to feel pretty good and I got in a couple of decent rides, but I still don’t feel great. Hopefully I can feel better by the ENECO Tour and be able to do something there.”
After a bittersweet Tour performance, which saw him become the fourth American to wear the yellow jersey early in the race only to fade out of contention in the Pyrenees, Hincapie said he’s not sure what lies ahead of the 2007 Tour.
“I haven’t thought about it yet,” Hincapie said. “I will definitely focus on the classics and then we’ll see what I’ll do after that.”
Freire to stay with Rabobank
Oscar Freire will stay with Rabobank for two more seasons through the end of 2008, the Dutch team announced this weekend.
Freire, 30, won two stages at the Tour de France and the Vattenfall Cyclassics in July.
The three-time world champion skipped this weekend’s Clasica San Sebastian with unexplained dizzy spells, but he’s hoping to be able to start the three-week Vuelta a España later this month ahead of a run at a record fourth world championships.
Virenque breaks nose, gets stitches after crash
Richard Virenque fell during an amateur race in the Alps on Saturday, leaving the Frenchman with a broken nose and 32 stitches in his head.
Virenque, the Tour de France’s best climber a record seven times, was taken to a hospital in Grenoble for treatment, said organizer Bernard Thevenet, a Tour winner in 1975 and 1977.
Virenque was part of the Festina squad kicked off the Tour in 1998 after police found large quantities of doping material in a team car. Virenque, now a minor television celebrity, later made a tearful confession to a French court that he had used such items. —The Associated Press