Leadership

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17-time Tour de France racer George Hincapie on entrepreneurship, cycling, and the value of relationships

July 28, 2021

17-time Tour de France racer George Hincapie on entrepreneurship, cycling, and the value of relationships

George Hincapie

17-time Tour de France Cyclist and Entrepreneur

From the road to the board room, elite cyclist George Hincapie has always benefitted from building relationships.

From the road to the board room, elite cyclist George Hincapie has always benefitted from one thing in particular: building relationships

On the latest Walker Webcast, George sat down with Willy to discuss his successful businesses, the future of cycling and adventure tourism, and the results of both the Tour de France and ongoing Olympic games.

In this episode, Willy speaks with guest George Hincapie, a professional cyclist who began racing as a young boy, winning 10 junior national titles and two world medals prior to joining the professional ranks. The following 19 years brought victories in a record 17 Ronde van Vlaanderen races and a second-place finish at the grueling Paris-Roubaix, which was the best placement of any American. George also competed 17 times in the Tour de France and won three U.S. National Road Race championships. In 2012, George retired from the professional racing circuit, but he continues to be directly involved in product development and testing for the Hincapie sportswear company, as well as an integral leader for the pro cycling team.

The episode begins with George explaining what a domestique is. No matter how strong you are, he says, if you aren’t able to navigate yourself, you’re not going to win. His role was to keep people out in front and out of the wind, and he was one of the best in the world at that role. Even in individual sports, there is a team behind them -- George explains that in cycling that team is on the road with you. It’s that role that propelled him to becoming the face of American cycling. George says it’s a title he achieved by interacting a lot with other members of the sport and creating strong relationships with people who helped him along his journey. Now, he has a sports clothing line, Hincapie, which came from his desire to stay in the sport long after he was riding.

Then Willy asks George about other disciplines. From Tour de France to mountain biking to cyclocross, athletes now aren’t specializing at a young age, they are doing everything they can on the bike to heighten their awareness and become better at each discipline. These days, George is working with his son who is beginning his own cycling career. In addition, he’s spending his time enjoying cycling and not worrying as much about setting the pace or winning races. He’s running his business, training his son, and having fun.

One of the key advantages George had in his time competitive cycling was his intuition about what was on the road ahead. Nowadays, he wouldn’t need it. Technology has made it so that everyone can see what’s happening ahead of them and react quickly. They have earpieces that feed them information, but they aren’t allowed in the Olympic Games. George says that dependence on technology can mean on the biggest stage you aren’t as prepared as you want to be.

As the episode ends, Willy asks George some rapid fire questions, and George emphasizes that outside of his cycling career, he wants to be remembered as someone who worked hard, fought for positive change, and never took his position for granted. 

Links: 

Learn more about Hincapie
Learn more about George Hincapie
Learn more about Willy Walker and connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn

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