On Monday, cyclist George Hincapie will commence his final race, the grueling, six-day USA Pro Cycling Challenge in the Colorado Rockies. Afterwards, he will enter retirement at the ripe age of 37 as one of the all-time greats: He has ridden the Tour de France a dizzying 17 times – the most in the Tour's history – during which he assisted Lance Armstrong in his seven victories (as well as yellow-jersey winners Alberto Contador in 2007 and Cadel Evans in 2011), and has taken a dozen stages himself, including stage 15 in 2005. As he looks to call it quits, Hincapie shows no interest in starting triathlons. His plans: Hiking, getting to know the bars in Greenville, South Carolina (his hometown), and keeping up his daily ride. "I plan on riding forever. My dad is 70 years old and he's still riding. I'll be there." Launch Gallery >>
Photograph by Joseph Branston / Getty Images
USA Pro Cycling Challenge
Hincapie's last race will be the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, which begins in Durango, Colorado this Monday and ends with a time trial into Denver six days later. "It's important to me to finish in the United States," the Queens, New York-born cyclist told us over the phone, while acclimating to the altitude in Park City, Utah. He's ending with a tough haul: Every stage but the last surpasses the elevation of Col de la Bonnette, the highest point during the Tour de France. But the main factor in the race is altitude. "No one is used to 10,000 and in some cases 12,000 feet," he says. It's also no small challenge to simply keep your eyes on the road: Passing through Telluride, Aspen, Crested Butte, and Beaver Creek is the most picturesque asphalt in the Rockies. "One notable place is Independence Pass. The scenery there is spectacular."
Credit: Doug Pensinger / Getty Images