Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Enigma of G. Hincapie

I've often wondered just what makes this man tick. Consider the case of George Hincapie, reigning American road cycling champion and chronic wrist-breaker.
In this sad photo dating from Paris-Roubaix 2006 I believe, Hincapie sobs at the side of the road, his hopes dashed after his bike's aluminum stem broke under the relentless pressure of the cobblestones and spilled him in a heap at the roadside. Hincapie had been in an ideal position in the race; instead he got a free trip to the hospital with a broken something.
Even though I know little about him, never search for details of his career, still I have long wondered what keeps G.H. in the game. He was Lance's loyal lieutenant for all seven Tours de France, somehow having that moment of gloire on the Queen stage in the Pyranees a couple of years ago, when he took victory in the hardest climbing stage of the Tour.
But how do you stay motivated George? After ten years + in the pro racing game, haven't you seen it all? I am reminded of the Hincapie Enigma after reading today of the closing circuits of Tirrano-Adriatico, "the race of two seas" in that sets up the early season in Italy. Needless to say, G.H. took a slam likely due to someone's bad move. There is a great photo of him I am prevented from stealing for annoying reasons, where he stands over his bike in the High Road jersey, a smear on the sleeve and a can of pop in one hand. Clearly, the day is finished for him, yet again.
Now of all people to feel sorry for and to worry about the career choices of, me even thinking about George Hincapie is pretty strange, some might say ludicrous. And yet, life is frequently ludicrous and when the alternative is sifting through a massive accounting database looking for small amounts of money attached to long tracking numbers, thoughts of G.H.'s overall wellbeing seem perfectly reasonable. While George has had plenty of victories, fame, large paycheques, and likely a fancy watch or three, I still see his career in terms of failure. Not that Hincapie is a failure. Anyone who meets his girlfriend on a podium at the Tour de France is not a failure in the world of cycling.
It's more the constant wrist and shoulder blade fractures. How does a racer stay motivated when all the work of training ends in disaster so often? George, if you're reading this, explain yourself in the Comments section. Do you read Nietsche?


briana said...

I picked GH as part of my Spring Classics fantasy tour team, but I do always have trouble feeling like he's really a top choice.

I've always had a harder time understanding Levi Leipheimer's motivation - like whether he ever wants to be more than a really great domestique...

Pappy said...

Levi - yes. If the Tour is a 'bland race with a bland winner', then Levi is the natural choice.

knarf said...

I know messengers who have had numerous broken bones, stitches, sprains, etc.

They keep going year-round for only about $20 to $25K a year. No fame, no adulation, no podiums, just pissed off cabbies and angry clients.

I'll take being GH anyday!

-everyone's favourite dispatcher ;-)

briana said...

'bland race with a bland winner' - maybe this will be his year?!?