George Hincapie on His Career, Doping, and the Future of CyclingDec 09, 2021
I'm John Farrar with amazon.com I'm here with George Hincapie is the author of Loyal Lieutenant George was a cyclist for about 30 years and took part in some of the biggest races in the world, including the Tour de France with Lance. Armstrong, thanks for making sure, Ravin. I would like to start by talking about your first experiences on a bicycle. How young were you when it started to rain well? I certainly didn't take the traditional approach to becoming a professional cyclist. I grew up near here and Richmond Hill Queens and learned to ride a bike in Central Park and Prospect Park.
I talk about that in the book. My family was from Columbia and my father had a great passion for the sport of
cyclingand we kind of made it a family sport for us and that's how I grew up, training and racing bikes all over the New York area and then, At one point, you were recruited into the professional ranks. Yeah, that transition, so before you're probably competing more for yourself, there were adjustments, joining a team and things that you had to overcome or a different type of attitude that you have to take, there were several adjustments, I mean.
One of the biggest ones was having to move to another country and I moved to Italy right from the start. He didn't speak the language. I felt very homesick during the first few years. The races were much more difficult. There were just a lot of things I didn't know. I was pretty prepared but my dream was to become a professional cyclist and I wasn't going to let that stop me, so the team aspect had too casual observers, it could seem like a very individualistic sport so you focus on the team. leaders, but that wasn't your role, you were a gregarious support writer like that, how do you influence the results of the races?
What was your role inside the well? I talk about it pretty extensively in the book, as well as others in the book, but it was more about being able to locate my main writers, whether it was on really rough cobblestones or going from highway-sized roads to turning onto right on a bike path with 220 cyclists you know trying to survive. Your position to get to that bike lane in the top 10 is a very crucial moment of a bike race and not many people are able to guide their leader in a way that allows them to save energy for their best rider and it turns out I'm very good at that, so I focused on that at the beginning of my
careerand there were races where I was also one of the team leaders and I was able to ride by myself in races like the Tour. of France I was, I was an assistant now, obviously your
careerwith Armstrong won seven consecutive Tour de France, yes, all of that has been overshadowed in recent years by the stories of
dopingcheating, not just with the team he was for you wrote, but also with you.
I know all the riders, all the top riders in the sport and in the book you talk about your own use of
dopingand all those bags and things like that, when, when did you get involved with that and what the types of pressures were. That led you to make that decision. I mean it was any kind of pressure coming from an individual. It was more of a sporting pressure back then. It was very common in sports. The cyclist is upset with each other. the peloton and there was a time when you went from me and one of the best guys in the country, the highest rated new pro in the sport, it was barely being able to hold on to the peloton, so there was a pretty drastic change and you know that everyone we were thrown into this dark era of sport.
I mean, sport has had a long history of problems with performance-enhancing drugs and this book obviously recognizes that and my experiences with that, but for me it's more important. recognizes the change in the cultural change that I was able to witness over the last seven eight years in the sport and now it's really a different sport than the one you talk about and that's kind of the core of the book when you decided you weren't doing it. I wanted to consume more when I was in 2006. I had been going that way. I thought it was a time for a change in a sport.
I felt like it was getting too out of control and it was going to end up taking our sport down and I got to a position where I felt like I could influence other people's and there were certain circumstances that really helped me get to that point where I wanted to become an advocate for clean
cyclingand when I made that decision I didn't. I didn't look back and you know, I kept trying to mentor younger riders and being part of a change in a sport that was rooted in an unfortunate past. What challenges did you face when you stopped using EPO?
How did that affect you? your performance and how you did well in the beginning it was more about I felt it was more important to be part of the change and having to worry about my results and there were a lot of riders who were fed up with that and a lot of riders just joined in and in At that time, new teenagers appeared who said that everything is about transparency, it is about changing the sport and those teams wanted me to be part of that change and I think that sent a strong message. within the peloton and although there is drugs and obviously it continued, but I knew that little by little it did not become a minority and not the majority as it was in the past and, as you see today, you can win races cleanly, so doping Blood affects different people in different ways Do you think the era in which you started racing changed the way you approached racing Do you think you could have focused more as a team leader simply based on what seems to be your natural ability, but there wasn't any kind of yes if you obviously hadn't cleaned up quite possibly I mean, we can't we can't change the story.
I think we can learn from history and I think this book shows that there was a clear change and that I was able to compete and succeed cleanly and later in my career and be a part of historic moments in cycling that will never be taken away from me and that I will never forget. I'm very proud, so in some ways it was unfortunate that I was thrown into that era and of course I made mistakes and made bad decisions, but I'm also proud to have lived through that era and how I was able to be a part of a small part of the change.
What is your proudest moment? as a bike racer um, my proudest moment as a bike racer, that's a good question, the stage win there was, if I can remember, the skill was very I won the national championship in my hometown in 2009 after I I broke his collarbone, I talk about it in the book and you know moments like that when you're in front of friends and family who would otherwise never see you race because they can't make it to Europe or they've just never been to the Tour de France, but I won that race in my hometown and proud of that, at that time I had to have my daughter on the podium with me so that those types of moments stand out more and do you have plans to stay involved with cycling?
I have a development team now I think it's a great development team, they are all riders under 25 years old. We were probably one of the best development teams in the world, one of the highest-ranked teams nationally, and I would love for my goal to try to grow it. program and have them compete in Europe and know that they will never have to worry about that x factor, they only have to worry about working hard and dedicating their life to a sport that is not so glamorous now, it is about hard work, but if it is your dream going well thanks for coming thanks for inviting me
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