Of the two-hundred riders contesting the 2010 edition of the Tour de France, eight of them are American and out of that select group two are from the Southeast: Brent Bookwalter of Athens, Georgia and George Hincapie, a Greenville, South Carolina native – both from Team BMC. Throughout the Tour de France Carolina Cycling News will post their results as well as any news on these southeast based racers.
The surprise among the American contingent was Armstrong’s fourth place on the day. Not a surprise to anyone was Bookwalter’s eleventh place. Bookwalter was second in the Giro prologue and has a strong history in the race against the clock.
In an interview with Athens Online, Bookwalter explained the importance of the Tour de France.
“By American standards, this is the race. As a young rider growing up in the U.S., the only race you’re really exposed to is the Tour de France. It’s really the only cycling race in the world that gets mainstream media attention.”
In his first Tour, Bookwalter was 35 seconds behind prologue winner Fabian Cancellara (Team Saxo Bank). “I felt OK but also a little stale,” Bookwalter said. “I definitely haven’t been doing a lot of specific training for a 10-minute effort.”
While Athens resident Bookwalter had a good time, Greenville’s own George Hincapie had a prologue he’d rather forget. Prior to his start BMC teammate Mathias Frank crashed heavily which played on his mind considering he was going to be facing the same wet conditions. The damage to the Swiss rider is a split lip that requires stitches and a possible broken wrist. As I write this report Frank’s status for tomorrow’s stage is not certain.
Hincapie crossed the prologue finish line in 68th place for a time of 10:54. In a post-race Twitter Hincapie said, “Was a bit timid in corners after hearing my teammate may have broken his hand . Not a great result,but looking forward to rest of race.”
Lance isn’t the only one rider with celebrity fans; Ben Stiller was following George in the team car as he raced through downtown Rotterdam.
Tomorrow’s stage finishes in Brussels and celebrates the birthday of Eddy Merckx. The actual course is flat so it’s sure to be a sprint finish.
Bookwalter is interviewed after his prologue by Bicycling Magazine here.