“It’s crazy how easy it was…I was convinced that [doping] was the only way to continue on doing what I was doing.”
– George Hincapie
Universal Sports Exclusive: In-Depth Interview with Former Pro Cyclist George Hincapie to Air this Friday, August 22, at 8 PM ET
George Hincapie Was the “Loyal Lieutenant” Who Helped Lance Armstrong Win Seven Tour de France Titles, Only to Later Become a Key Witness in the Case Against His Former Teammate
LOS ANGELES (August 18, 2014) – Universal Sports Network will present George Hincapie: The Loyal Lieutenant, an exclusive, in-depth personal interview with former professional cyclist George Hincapie, this Friday, August 22, at 8 p.m. ET. In the one-hour special, the 17-time Tour de France veteran, three-time national road champion and five-time Olympian offers an insightful account of his esteemed career through an era plagued by performance-enhancing drug use.
Sitting down with veteran sportscaster and co-author of Hincapie’s memoir The Loyal Lieutenant, Craig Hummer, “Big George” covers everything from his humble beginnings in Queens, New York to his role in one of the world’s biggest doping scandals that brought down his former teammate, Lance Armstrong.
“George Hincapie is one of the most successful cyclists and well-respected teammates in American history,” said Universal Sports Network SVP of Production Dean Walker. “His story remains a relevant topic of discussion as fans continue to struggle with the reality of a dark period within the sport and as George continues to be an advocate of racing ‘clean’. We hope this program can serve as a catalyst to foster conversation around doping for future generations.”
Born to Colombian parents and a cycling-loving father, Hincapie began racing at the age of 10. After a successful junior career in which he captured 10 national titles and two world championship medals, he graduated to the professional ranks with some of the sport’s top teams and became known as America’s top Classics rider. His supporting role to Lance Armstrong in all seven of his Tour de France victories made Hincapie a legend in his own right and the most acclaimed domestique in history. (Domestique refers to a rider who works for the benefit of the team leader.)
“There is a point when you become a professional athlete when you realize that talent can only get you so far,” said Hincapie about his stellar reputation as a loyal teammate. “You realize everybody at that level is amazingly good, and the small difference is your mindset, your desire to work, your work ethic – those are the things that make a difference.”
Hincapie also explains in detail how his personal involvement with performance-enhancing drugs began and the pressures that led this ultimate teammate to turn against his friends and associates.
“I thought it was going to be this really big deal, and it ended up being like going to the pharmacy and buying a pack of gum or a pack of cigarettes,” Hincapie recalls about the first time he went to buy EPO (Erythropoietin) from a pharmacy in Switzerland in 1996. “I ordered the box, she handed it to me, took my money and that was it. It’s crazy how easy it was. And when I went to go inject myself, I was convinced that [doping] was the only way to continue on doing what I was doing.”
After narrowly dodging a 2006 drug test, Hincapie decided to quit doping altogether. In 2012, he retired from professional racing after a 19-year career that saw him become one of the most respected cyclists in the peloton. Following his retirement, Hincapie released a statement admitting to doping and was among 11 former teammates of Lance Armstrong who testified during the investigation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) that led to Armstrong’s downfall.
Since his retirement, Hincapie has taken a more active role in family business interests alongside his brother, Rich, including Hincapie Sportswear, Gran Fondo Hincapie, Hotel Domestique and the professional Hincapie Sportswear Development Team.
With regard to his current involvement with the cycling community and in developing professional cyclists, Hincapie said, “Who better than me to know what’s wrong and what’s right because I’ve done both. I think that I could be a strong advocate for cycling in the future.”
Along with personal photos and TV footage from Hincapie’s professional racing days, George Hincapie: The Loyal Lieutenant also includes interviews with pro cyclist Mark Cavendish, Hincapie’s wife, Melanie, and brother and business partner, Rich Hincapie. Encore presentations will air throughout August and September. Check local listings for times. To find Universal Sports Network on your channel finder, please visit universalsports.com.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: George Hincapie: The Loyal Lieutenant by Universal Sports Network is not produced in conjunction with the book titled The Loyal Lieutenant: Leading Out Lance and Pushing Through the Pain on the Rocky Road to Paris by HarperCollins Publishers.
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VIDEO: Excerpt available for media use. http://universalsports.com/video/universal-sports-presents-george-hincapie-the-loyal-lieutenant/