When George Hincapie won his first USPRO Championship in Greenville a couple of years back, I lambasted the effort, called it disgraceful and all sorts of other mean words, but this time around, I have nothing but kindness for Big George. He rode a smart race, a powerful race, and when it came down to it – he did exactly what he needed to do to retake the Stars and Stripes as he moves on to BMC for 2010. Andy Bajadali and Jeff Louder were the direct victims of Hincapie’s dominance on the day.
Louder made an impressive solo move in the waning moments of the race, only to be snatched up inside 500m to go. Bajadali countered the move right before the final turn by attacking up the inside of the wide road, but Hincapie was on it seemingly before Bajadali had decided to attack – it was going to be a three-way sprint. Hincapie isn’t a world class sprinter, but amongst that trio, in Greenville, the result couldn’t have gone any other way.
George Hincapie started the day the hot favorite. Garmin was seen as the team to beat though – each year Garmin sends a veritable juggernaut of talent to the race, perhaps this year they’d come away with the jersey. Let me just help you with the suspense: no, they didn’t. In fact, this was probably the worst USPRO has ever gone for the squad. Many look to point fingers at Garmin, but sometimes bike races just don’t go your way. They rode an aggressive race, but absolutely none of the chips fell their way. So it goes.
David Zabriskie attacked going through the third corner. He spent the next 90k off the front. To put Zabriskie’s effort into perspective – the field FLEW through the three opening downtown circuits. The average was somewhere near 45km/h. It was fast. Zabriskie was off the front the entire time. He put on a show of force, no questions. It’s unfortunate that he didn’t wait a little while to put on that show of force.
The opening circuits were fast and aggressive. As soon as the race headed out of town though, the pace let up significantly. Sometimes a bike race just needs a breather, you know?
David Zabriskie got the pleasure of two trips up Paris Mountain all by his lonesome.
It isn’t a lie, George Hincapie did in fact used to live ON Paris Mountain. Talk about home field advantage. That’s almost unfair.
There were no easy laps up Paris Mountain in 2009. Last year, there were a number of slow trips up. This year, the gas was continually on, and riders continually fell off the pace.
Craig Lewis rode an incredible race for George Hincapie coming off of a bout with Swine Flu.
Wondering who that guy in the blue and yellow kit was? That’s former U23 National Champion, Max Jenkins. Max rode a fantastic race to finish in 14th. Keep an eye out for this guy.
The final selection enters the circuits.
Phil Zajicek knows how to get himself ready for USPRO in Greenville. He’s always there, always close to a huge result.
Formerly of Cuba, Ivan Dominguez got his first chance to ride the US National Championships. He got his US citizenship this year.
Jake Rytlewski also put in a stellar performance on Sunday.
Photographers, including PEZ’s Darrell Parks, wait for the race to come back around.
Only a scant few of the 100 starters were allowed to finish the entire race. This group was pulled and given a pro-rated time. It’s a somewhat cruel practice considering that this group had made it THAT far in such a hard race, but alas, circuits require it.
Hincapie appeared almost serene in the finale. He never appeared to be under any significant duress, and when it came time to open up the sprint, he had more than enough to take the win.
He was suitably pleased with the result.
George gives his dad a big hug.
Andy Bajadali seems to have an affinity for this course. He’s always in the mix for the win, but hasn’t managed to pull off what would be a spectacular upset. If the race returns in 2010, you could do worse than pick him as your Dark Horse.
Hincapie will be back in the Stars and Stripes for 2010 on his new, hugely revamped BMC squad.
What would a win be without your podium kisses?
George Hincapie in 1st, Andy Bajadali 2nd, and Jeff Louder 3rd.
And as I wrap up this mostly pictorial effort, take a closer look at the results sheet…just below the top 3. 4th and 5th went to uber-talented young guns Brent Bookwalter and Matthew Busche. They didn’t quite crack the podium, but you know they’ll be there in the very near future. Bookwalter has had, arguably, his best season ever, whilst Matthew Busche has exploded onto the scene in 2009. Keep an eye out for the both of them in the coming months and years.
1. George Hincapie, Columbia-HTC, 4:33:36
2. Andrew Bajadali, Kelly Benefit Strategies, 4:33:37
3. Jeff Louder, BMC Racing Team, 4:33:39
4. Brent Bookwalter, BMC Racing Team, 4:33:43
5. Matthew Busche, Kelly Benefit Strategies, 4:33:43
6. Jonathan McCarty, OUCH-Maxxis, 4:33:49
7. Chris Jones, Team Type 1, 4:33:49
8. Phil Zajicek, Fly V Australia, 4:33:59
9. Daniel Bowman, Kelly Benefit Strategies, 4:34:46
10. Shawn Milne, Team Type 1, 4:34:55
11. Neil Shirley, Kelly Benefit Strategies, 4:35:01
12. Mike Creed, Team Type 1, 4:35:02
13. Jason Donald, Garmin-Slipstream, 4:35:03
14. Max Jenkins, Glud & Marstrand Horsens, 4:35:04
15. Burke Swindlehurst, Bissell Pro Cycling, 4:35:05
16. Bradley White, OUCH-Maxxis, 4:35:06
17. Danny Pate, Garmin-Slipstream, 4:35:45
18. Jason McCartney, Saxo Bank, 4:35:45
19. Jacob Rytlewski, Kenda Pro Cycling p/b Spinergy, 4:40:30
Thanks to PEZ Photographer, Darrell Parks, for his wonderful images. Take a look at his vast collection over at his website: DarrellParks.com
Also, a big thank you to James Thomas for his shots. Head on over to BicycleDesign.net for more!