The Hincapie Affair, part two.
The only thing all parties agree on is what a darn shame it was that poor old George Hincapie didn’t get a yellow jersey.
What nobody is willing to admit or accept is their part in keeping him from it. By the time the microphones were turned on, Astana, Garmin and Columbia all had their sworn statements, alibis and fingers pointed at somebody else. You’ll find the court transcripts here at Velonews.
Fans around the world also debated just exactly who did what to who and why. For example, why didn’t Astana give their old buddy more of a cushion in case Columbia whipped up the chase? Why didn’t Columbia slow down a bit more for their loyal team-mate? Just what reason was there for Garmin to put three riders up front to drive the chase? The safety and GC position of Wiggins and Vande Velde was not a real issue. Were they just sticking it to Columbia and trying to mess them up? Why didn’t Lance Armstrong, the boss of the peloton and George’s close friend, simply say to all the riders, “George gets this one.”
In the final analysis, it doesn’t matter what anybody said. The only opinion that counts is the one from George Hincapie. And after a night to cool off and ample time to reflect and soften his statements, he wasn’t changing his story. He blamed Astana, felt betrayed and saw no reason to alter that opinion.
Sports are win or lose but professional cycling has a code of honor, its unwritten rules, and all the riders know them. George Hincapie thought the code would work in his favor, a well-liked, 16 year veteran with good friends in all three teams. He expected them to grant him the favor of a yellow jersey.
Unfortunately, on stage 14 nobody else was reading the code. You could say, well, that’s bike racing or that poor, hard-luck George got shafted. As five time tour winner and noted sourpuss Bernard Hinault once said, “no gifts, no gifts.”