You can understand the terrible dilemma that George Hincapie faced when he contemplated retirement after 19 years as a professional cyclist.
Does he make the monumental physical sacrifices to ride another year in the pro peloton, across the nasty cobbles and crosswinds of Belgium and up the brutal Alps and Pyrenees of France or does he stay home with former podium girl and French runway model Melanie Simonneau?
Are you tapping into his struggle, his irascible conundrum, the titanic mental and emotional tug of war? Imagine the vicious pros & cons list that Big George was forced to wrestled with:
Drive the front of the race in Flanders or Roubaix over those body-destroying cobblestones for young gun Taylor Phinney or hang around the house drinking some tres bon Bordeaux wine with the beautiful Melanie?
Ride for Cadel Evans for three stressful, dangerous and hors demanding weeks in France or go shopping for new bed linens with the sassy Melanie?
Play road captain for Tejay van Garderen in the Tour of California and the US Pro Cycling Challenge or snuggle up on the couch and watch an old Truffaut film with the dazzling Melanie?
Finally, Big George came to his senses. In fact, we wonder why the man didn’t retire years ago.
Forget this exhausting, year round suffer-fest of training and racing and dieting and the thousand sacrifices required of a top level pro and go home and help Melanie organize the closet or take the dog for a walk or sample body lotions at the fashion boutique — with Melanie, toujours avec Melanie.
Twisted Spoke was standing backstage near George and Melanie as TV race commentators Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen told Hincapie stories to the roar of the crowd. Forty press photographers were waiting for George to appear any second. We don’t think Hincapie was really listening to Phil and Paul and he didn’t even have a short speech prepared. No, he was kissing Melanie. Repeatedly.
We asked Melanie what George would be doing around the house now that he’s retired. She said she would teach him how to cook. Something tells us that Big George is going to like retirement.