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Book tells Hincapie's story with cycling, Armstrong

Posted July 3, 2014

The biggest event in cycling, the Tour de France, begins on Saturday, a day former professional cyclist George Hincapie is very familiar with.

Hincapie, the author of The Loyal Lieutenant: Leading Out Lance and Pushing Through the Pain on the Rocky Road to Paris, joined Adam and Joe on 99.9 The Fan to talk about Lance Armstrong and how cycling has changed since he retired from the sport.

Though he doesn’t miss competing, Hincapie says he still loves riding.

“Nineteen years as a pro and 17 Tour de France’s was more than enough,” Hincapie said. “I still love riding my bike, but I don’t miss having to measure my performance day in and day out and having to deal with crashes and all that goes into the sport of cycling.”

Hincapie wrote in the prologue of his book “On some level, to be a professional cyclist is to embrace a life of loneliness.” How does one do that?

“Cycling is all about long distance training,” he said. “Many times, you have to do that (training) on your own, and you end up riding by yourself many days of the years for many hours at a time. It is certainly a lonely, lonely time.”

Hincapie provided federal testimony that helped to prove Armstrong used performance enhancing drugs during his seven-year reign as Tour de France champion.

Since that time, the two have become friends again, with Armstrong writing the forward to Hincapie’s book.

“We didn’t talk while the investigation was going on,” he said. “I told the story of what the sport was like back then, but the book is about a lot more than just that era.”

“The book for me is about how much the sport has changed and where it is today,” said Hincapie.

At the time of Armstrong’s dominance, cyclists were, in a way, forced to use P.E.D.’s in order to be competitive at the highest level. However, this was not something that was used in explanations as to why so many riders did so.

“I think, as you saw, once everything came out about Lance, every week, another rider from that time would come out and say, ‘hey, I did the same thing’ and that did not get nearly the same amount of attention,” he said. “The whole story was never told, it was really about one team and one rider.”

Since that time, there have been many changes in the sport to prevent P.E.D.’s from dominating the sport again.

“I got to witness it first hand, whether it was working with riders like Cadel Evans or Mark Cavendish, riding for teams like HTC that were new teams that were popping up were very vocal in change in the sport,” said Hincapie.

“They were very anti-doping centric. They were very transparent, and they did their own, independent testing. They spent a ton of money on testing their riders individually and posting results so people would know. They helped the culture to change,” he said.

Hincapie knows Armstrong did wrong during his cycling days, but says he is a good person.

“No matter what you know, or think you know about Lance, he did have cancer, he had a fifty percent chance of living or dying and he beat that. I think he did a lot of good for people with cancer, and I know he is still passionate about the cause and I hope that maybe one day he can begin working with that again,” said Hincapie.

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