Greenville, South Carolina lived up to any expectations that USA Cycling must have had. The tough course separated the wheat from the chaff and a worthy champion took the title. Estimated reports had 50,000 people lining the course, all cheering for their resident, George Hincapie. At the start/finish line the crowds lined both sides of the street and enthusiastically cheered all the riders. In Philly, if a rider had been dropped it was not uncommon for the rider to be booed. That would never happen here in Greenville where Southern hospitality was evident. As we stood on the corner, a few residents approached Tim and I and just started a conversation with us. This was a little disconcerting for L.A. residents such as us. Soon you would know all about that person, from what they did, to where they lived and if they could help us in any way. Truly fantastic people.
I spent two laps in the Tragetraining car and saw first hand the damage that the course was doing to the riders.
The course itself had few flat spots and the one flat spot was used for the feed zone. Riders blazed through that area, making bottle exchanges a challenge. The first few climbs up Paris Mountain were decisive. Levi got to the front and just drilled it, breaking George’s record for the climb. Levi stated in the post-race press conference that was the plan; make the race as hard as possible. Finally with the race in just double digits it was Hincapie, Leipheimer, and race revelation Andy Bajadali of Jelly Belly. But once into the smaller loops in downtown Greenville, Bajadali could no longer answer the attacks and cratered, leaving the hard charging Danny Pate to bridge up and pass. Up ahead, Hincapie attacked with one kilometer to go and Leipheimer had nothing. Just like how he invisioned it, George Hincapie came across the line solo, grabbing his head with both hands in joy as the crowd of Greenville erupted in celebration for their hometown hero.