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Freeman Cebu Sports

Will George Hincapie finally get the big one?

ALLEZ - Jose Vicente Araneta -

The most famous US rider after Lance Armstrong and before Floyd Landis won (and lost) his Tour de France is George Hincapie. In fact, Hincapie is the only rider to ride in Armstrong’s 7 Tour de France wins. At 6’3” and 165lbs, Hincapie is skinnier than most people, yet his size, relative to professional cycling, is considered as “massive”, that’s why the word “Big” is written before his name.

After winning his first TdF stage in 2005, and the toughest mountain stage at that, the US media immediately crowned him as the successor to Armstrong who was to retire later that season. But in the 2006 TdF, his limitations was unmasked. In fairness to Hincapie, not even Frankenstein can turn Maurice Green into an Albert Salazar.

Hincapie is now 35yo, a retirement age for most cyclists. He has won lots of races in both continents yet there are two “one-day Classics” that bookends this week that has annually haunted him since he turned pro in 1994. They are the Tour of Flanders (Ronde) and Paris-Roubaix.

While the Ronde and PR are different races, they too have some things in common- medieval cobbles litter the road and strong crosswinds. Their difference is that the Ronde is hilly while PR is flat. However, both races are for hardened men who can fly over cobblestones and power their way over short, steep hills (bergs). Hincapie belongs to this group of special men whose bodies are built for the rough and tumble world of the Belgian bicycle racing. But so does former winners and rivals Tom Boonen, Allesandro Ballan, Stuey O’Grady and Fabian Cancellara.

His best chance of winning PR was in 2002. Johan Musseuw was away solo and was tiring while Hincapie had his then domestique, Tom Boonen, slowly closing in. But like the mythical Sisyphus, just when victory was within his grasp, he “bonked” (glycogen depletion) and would end up 5th. Although he came in 2nd in 2005, he had no chance against a more mature and stronger Boonen. Then in 2006, Hincapie was with the favorites in the closing stages of the race when a broken fork caused him to crash with a broken shoulder.

In the Ronde, his best place was third but that was after Boonen and teammate Leif Hoste had crossed the line 1-2.

The window of opportunity is slowly closing on Hicapie. For whatever reason, his name doesn’t even listed as one of the favorites to win. If after all these years the hunger and fire is still raging, Hincapie doesn’t show it and this is what makes people think that Hincapie is too soft to win.

There have been many instances when Hincapie could have won if he had the panache to ride alone but I think he is afraid of gambling on one big breakaway that could either net him a win or relegate him down on the finishing list. Maybe he doesn’t want to be called a fool if he loses.

By this time, we would have the result of the 2008 Ronde and I hope that Hincapie can win it at last. If he can’t, then there is still Paris-Roubaix next Sunday.

TOTO

The concert at the Waterfront Hotel was like a 70s show- long drum solos and longer guitar licks. It reminded me of Led Zep’s Moby Dick.

I guess the reason why TOTO was more on instruments rather than on the vocal harmonies, talent that they’re known for, is age. You don’t have to have perfect hearing to tell that Bobby Kimball and Steve Lukather had a hard time hitting the high notes.

I wasn’t expecting a vintage TOTO but the long jazzy ad libs surprised me. I think that TOTO disappointed a lot of fans who were expecting the band to render their studio version of their hits.

Also surprising was the presence of legendary session musicians Leland Sklar and Greg Phillanganes. Sklar had worked with James Taylor, CSNY, Lee Ritinour, Barbra Streisand- to drop a few names while Phillinganes used to work for Steely Dan Eric Clapton and Michael Jackson. Just seeing those two guys live was enough for me.

Will I be willing to fork out another 1K if TOTO comes back? You bet!

ALBERT SALAZAR

ALLESANDRO BALLAN

BARBRA STREISAND

BOBBY KIMBALL AND STEVE LUKATHER

HINCAPIE

TOM BOONEN

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