Hincapie's new team director, Rolf Aldag, agrees. Aldag is confident that the American star can have a great Tour. "Basically, he can win every stage," Aldag said. "He can do really, really well in the TTs. He can win out of a breakaway in a flat stage, he could even win a massive sprint if everything works fine, and for sure he showed [at Pla d'Adet in 2005] that he can win a hard mountain stage if he's in a break."
Aldag's confidence in Hincapie was confirmed when team technical director Lars Teutenberg and aero guru Steve Hed traveled to North Carolina in mid-November to test Hincapie in the new AeroDyn A2 wind tunnel at Mooresville, near Charlotte. "We made some modifications to my TT position," Hincapie said. "My elbows are a bit closer together, and I went a little lower as well. And I have a couple of months to get used to it [before the Tour of California prologue in late February]. As far as prologues and shorter time trials, I'm probably one of the best in the world."Team pride was on display after Hincapie won Stage 7 of the 2008 Amgen Tour of California in Pasadena.
Besides going for his own victories in 2008—which might include a shot at his fifth Olympic Games in August—Hincapie has other responsibilities at High Road. "I'll be team captain in a lot of the races," he said. "That's one of the reasons Bob brought me on the team, to help manage some of the younger riders, and make a lot of the on-the-road calls that the directors don't get to make because it's happening so quickly."
Two of his students are the 22-year-old Americans Craig Lewis and John Devine. Hincapie, who has trained with near-neighbor Lewis for the past four years, says, "He's got a lot of potential. It's not like I see a Lance in him, I don't see that in any of the new riders coming up, but he's got a lot of work ethic, and he can climb really well; it would be good if he could do a Giro or a Vuelta and see where his future potential lies."
As for Devine, Hincapie said, "I got to race with him at nationals and the Tour of Missouri, and I was really impressed with the way he rides. I've seen him go up hills super-fast [so] he might be able to get some top fives in the climbing stages of smaller stage races."
Talking of his other High Road teammates, the veteran American said, "We have a super-international team, like Discovery in a sense. Riders from 15 different nations, English is the spoken language in the team; we've got [Gerald] Ciolek and [Mark] Cavendish who are some of the best sprinters in the world; Michael Rogers can do great in any of the grand tours, a great time trialist; and Michael Barry is probably one of my best friends in cycling.
"It's a great classics team as well, with Roger Hammond, Andreas Klier, Kim Kirchen, Servais Knaven. I feel we have the best young riders in the peloton coming up and a lot of the good, experienced riders. It's a very complete team."
Hincapie's arrival makes the squad even more complete. It will no longer wear the famous magenta-pink uniform of T-Mobile but don the new black-and-silver High Road uniform for the first time at the Tour Down Under in late January. All 29 riders then come together for a full training camp prior to the Tour of California—where Hincapie gets his first chance as team captain.
[Editor's Note: In June 2008, High Road announced they had acquired a new primary sponsor, Columbia Sportwear, and were changing their name to Team Columbia.]
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