Hincapie's painful love of Roubaix

George Hincapie is hoping that the strongest team he has ever led at Paris-Roubaix can help him isol

George Hincapie is hoping that the strongest team he has ever led at Paris-Roubaix can help him isol

PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM

An American who grew up in New York without a single cobble stone in sight is likely to be one of the few riders able to challenge Tom Boonen in this year's Paris-Roubaix, and George Hincapie is pretty sure of how it can be done: outnumber Boonen's Quick Step team and try to leave the current ruler on the cobbles behind.

For seven years Hincapie was on the other side of that tactical manoeuvre when riding in the service of Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France, but the New Yorker's true love lies with the pav - not least the ones in Paris-Roubaix where he's been close to victory several times. Last year he was runner-up to Boonen, in 2001 and 1999 he was fourth, in 2002 and 2000 sixth and in 2004 eighth.

Will this be the year when he takes the glory in the Roubaix Velodrome? According to the Discovery Channel rider, he's got everything going for him.

"I've never been better than now. I realised that in the Tour of Flanders on Sunday. I've never weighed less at this time of year (75 kilos) and I've never had a better team: Leif Hoste, Stijn Devolder, Vladimir Gusev, Roger Hammond," Hincapie told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad.

But the road to pave glory is filled with suffering, and this is something Hincapie knows all too well. "The harm that is done to your body during Paris-Roubaix is worse than at a marathon - everything hurts. The Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix drain you physically and mentally just as much as a full Tour de France," says Hincapie, who nevertheless admits he loves the cobbles.

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