11 June 2012

George Hincapie is retiring

This will be George's last season

Some things I think will never actually happen, like George Hincapie retiring. I reread the headline twice - George, are they sure, George? Yes, George's 19-year season will come to an end this year after the Tour de France and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado. The day has come - Big George is retiring.

Hincapie announces retirement by CyclingNews

George Hincapie set a number of new records so far this year - he raced the Tour of Flanders for a 17th time, the Paris-Roubaix for a 17th time, and he will race the Tour de France for a 17th time when July rolls around. Nine of those 16 times he raced the TDF, he helped a teammate win the yellow jersey. George is also a 5-time Olympian, and a 3-time National Road Race Champion, and a father of two (this achievement probably should have been listed first in order). 

CyclingNews.com quoted George as saying, "I want to go out while I can still contribute and make a difference." This seems to me to be an odd comment from a man who has contributed not only to the outcome of races, but to forming the BMC cycling team, and has set an example for a number of young riders rising under his rank. George's family is so enmeshed in this sport they contribute to a U23 team, manufacture team clothing and cycling apparel, and aid in numerous fundraisers and events. The cycling community has become dependent upon the Hincapies (?Hincapi). I hope that George understands the impact he has had on the lives of people he may never have met. That kind of contribution doesn't just stop when the racing stops. 

I think we can easily say George could go out on top and contribute, George could go out on bottom and contribute, George has contributed, George will contribute. What is worth reflecting upon is that a 39-year old man is himself reflecting upon his personal contribution, what he has done, what he intends to do. Something we all do a few times in our lives. Yet well-known athletes make their decisions and adjustments in public. Every cyclist walks this path of achievement and then reinvention. George Hincapie has left some big footprints down that path and will continue to do so. <

Thanks George, thanks from a fan who was first inspired to learn about road cycling because of you. You certainly changed my life, I hope the next steps you take in life will bring you happiness and joy, as you have given to so many others, all these long successful years. Looking forward to seeing you at both the Tour de France and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge this year, and for many years - as a fan yourself perhaps.

A collection of recent Pedal Dancer images of George from the 2012 Amgen Tour of California, May 2012. click any image to enlarge 
George waiting for the ITT at ATOC  Photo ©by PedalDancer.com/Willie Reichenstein
The rider everyone knew and admired - George Hincapie   Photo ©by PedalDancer.com/Karen
George Hincapie getting ready to race the clock   Photo ©by PedalDancer.com/Karen
How many times has he looked down that ramp?   Photo ©by PedalDancer.com/Karen
 George racing the ITT   Photo ©by PedalDancer.com/Willie Reichenstein
George Hincapie and his BMC time machine  Photo ©by PedalDancer.com/Karen
A hot one after the Stage 5 ITT    Photo ©by PedalDancer.com/Karen
George Hincapie arrives for the start of Stage 6  Photo ©by PedalDancer.com/Karen
Peter Velits, Ricardo Hincapie, Bert Grabsch, and George Hincapie   Photo ©by PedalDancer.com/Karen
George and his father Ricardo   Photo ©by PedalDancer.com/Karen
George Hincapie at Stage 6 start    Photo ©by PedalDancer.com/Karen
George ready to sign-in in Palmdale   Photo ©by PedalDancer.com/Karen
George climbing with the Peloton, Amgen Tour of California   Photo ©by PedalDancer.com/Willie Reichenstein
George on Glendora Mountain Rd, Stage 7  Photo ©by PedalDancer.com/Karen
Tejay van Garderen and George Hincapie descending Mt Baldy   Photo ©by PedalDancer.com/Karen
George rolls into Beverly Hills, Stage 8  Photo ©by PedalDancer.com/Willie Reichenstein
George Hincapie waves from the stage    Photo ©by PedalDancer.com/Willie Reichenstein
George - forever a fan favorite   Photo ©by PedalDancer.com/Willie Reichenstein
I think he'll miss this, I know we'll miss him.    Photo ©by PedalDancer.com/Willie Reichenstein
George at the finish line of Stage 8 ATOC  Photo ©by PedalDancer.com/Karen
A happy George in Los Angeles at the finish of another stage race  Photo ©by PedalDancer.com/Karen  
Thanks George!   Photo ©by PedalDancer.com/Karen
Related Pedal Dancer posts on George Hincapie: 

George Hincapie 
Can we get some mud for George
Hanging with the teams
BMC solid through 2016
Image of the Day: George Hincapie
For the love of a bike
Pictures that make me laugh: George!
Jerseys of the 2012 Tour of California (about Hincapie apparel)

All Pedal Dancer posts on George Hincapie: George Hincapie