Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Big George Has A Great Day!
The stage went to Leonardo Piepoli, and the Maglia Rosa went to Andrea Noé, while the overall battle seems to be going Danilo Di Luca’s way. But how hard George Hincapie tried to set things up for his teamate, Jose Luis Rubiera! As soon as the brutal hills started after La Spezia, Hincapie was on the attack, working harder and harder to get an escape away which would put pressure on the Liquigas team and Noé. The American champion eventually succeeded, and led a six-man escape for the following four-and-a-half hours before succumbing to the pressure with just six-kilometres to go. Hincapie didn’t just climb with the climbers, he even managed to out-climb them at times…
Today, Hincapie rode the best stage of his career since winning at Pla d’Adet in the 2005 Tour de France – and he appears to have got even better as a climber! But in the end it was not enough, for the pace up the final ascent killed off Rubiera’s chances of taking the Maglia Rosa. Di Luca’s attacks for the overall victory began on that last climb, and Rubiera could not find the extra zip in his legs to stay with the men that mattered.
It was always going to be an ambitious plan by Discovery Channel, but nothing is ever gained without at least trying. But what Discovery Channel has done is given Hincapie a huge boost in morale after missing the April classics with his damaged wrist. One can only imagine what Hincapie is capable of when he is really race-fit. If George can ride like this in July, another Tour stage-win in the mountains could come his way. Yet once again, just as he did in 2005, Hincapie has produced his best ride while in the service of his team leader