Hincapie starts his European racing season

The Greenville Spring Training Series is not just three weekends of racing but an opportunity to see where’s your fitness. With two weekends of racing completed there is just the River Fall course and the final Donaldson Center to be contested. However one person is going to take their fitness gained from two weekends of racing and test it on a bigger stage – Europe.

This Wednesday George Hincapie returns to Europe to begin his 18th professional racing season. In the past Hincapie has participated in team training camps and then raced in the Tour Down Under as well as Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (a race he won in 2005). However this year he’s skipped those and Saturday will be his first European race of the year – the Montepaschi Strade Bianche.

The Italian Montepaschi Strade Bianche, located in the Tuscan area, is a relatively new race on the professional calendar but has already earned a reputation as a tough event. The racers will face numerous hills, but what separates this race from others is not the features of the course but the characteristics – dirt roads. France has Paris-Roubaix and Italy has the Montepaschi Strade Bianche.

There are some differences between the Queen of the Classics and Montepaschi Strade Bianche. Roubaix is known for its cobblestone sections. While there are no cobblestones the racers will have to ride on eight sections of dirt roads which in the past have been made even more treacherous by rain. And like Paris-Roubaix the winner will not only be a strong rider, but lucky as well. These types of conditions suits the Greenville native to a tee.

“I’ve been at home (in Greenville, South Carolina) motorpacing four or five days a week, trying to train as hard as possible,” he said. “I’ve had good weather, daily massages and am eating well. I feel strong – definitely a lot better than I did at this time last year.”

Some of that training has been riding to the Greenville Spring Series, pinning on a number, initiating the winning breakaway, and then riding back home – totaling over 200 kilometers. However, up until this past Sunday he’s been holding back in the sprints, not willing to risk crashing before his European campaign. That ends Saturday in Italy.

You don’t need to be a professional rider to “enjoy” riding the Montepaschi Strade Bianche (Italian for white road). There is the Eroica Gran Fondo – an event to add to any bucket list.

Following the Montepaschi Strade Bianche Hincapie is racing the seven-day stage race Tirreno-Adriatico and the Italian Classic, Milan-San Remo.