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Tour de France: Hincapie's legacy of longevity

  • George Hincapie talks about his involvement with the Breakaway from Cancer ride on Sunday, April 25, 2010.

George Hincapi?Garc? and Hendrik Gerardus Jozef Zoetemelk are professionals from different eras in a sport that has both drastically changed yet remained the same.

But the cyclists have a lot in common. Neither rider uses his birth name. The former is George Hincapie, currently riding for the Santa Rosa-based BMC team. He's nearing the end of a long career dominated by technology.

The latter, now 63 and retired for 25 years, is Joop Zoetemelk. He rode a steeled-framed bike and wore woolen cycling attire early in his career.

George Hincapie

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Yet both riders' easy-going personalities made them ideal team riders. And most notably, Hincapie and Zoetemelk share legacies of longevity.

The most famous Dutch cyclist in history, Zoetemelk started and finished the Tour de France 16 times, winning once and placing second six times.

Beginning on Saturday in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Hincapie will participate in his 15th Tour de France — the most of any American — with hopes of gaining his 14th finish.

Although riding for an American-registered team, only Brent Bookwalter of Athens, Ga., will join Hincapie as Americans on a squad making its Tour de France debut. The nine riders will be led by Australian Cadel Evans, the reigning world road titlist and twice a Tour de France runner-up.

Hincapie, who turned 37 on Monday, is a three-time national road title holder who has one individual Tour de France stage win, three team time-trial stage wins and was the only teammate who shared all of Lance Armstrong's seven straight race titles.

During a recent visit to help unveil the new home of the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame in Davis, Hincapie spoke about the 2010 Tour de France and his enduring legacy in the sport.

Q: Early in the Tour de France this year in Belgium there'll be cobblestone sections. It's the type of riding that's suited you through the years. Are you looking forward to the early stages?


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