The 2010 Greenville Hospital System USPRO National Championship weekend kicked off today with a press conference, featuring past champions, ProTour riders, and Elite level up-and-comers, all with an eye on the Stars and Stripes jersey after the racing concludes.
Representatives from the City of Greenville, The Greenville Hospital System and Medalist Sports began the conference with a series of comments that reinforced how great the partnership with the USA Cycling Professional Cycling Championships is, and how well the City’s emphasis on health and wellness aligns perfectly with the atmosphere and environment that the race weekend has encompassed for the past four years.
The profile athlete introductions and question and answer period started with Oz Sanchez, current World Handcycling Road Race and Time Trial Champion. Speaking on behalf of the US Handcycling Association, Sanchez expressed the excitement of combining the USPRO National Cycling Events with the National Handcycling Criterium Championships, saying that the collaboration takes handcycling to a whole new level.
Road cyclists that attended the press conference included Scott Stewart (Team Type 1), Ted King (Cervelo Test Team), 2010 Tour of Utah and 2010 Leadville Trail 100 Champion Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack), 3-Time USPRO Champion and Greenville resident George Hincapie (BMC), and one of the brightest up-and-comers on the professional racing scene, Taylor Phinney (Trek Livestrong U23), racing in his first Elite Road National Championship events.
The USPRO Time Trial Championships, being held Saturday at Clemson University’s ICAR (International Center for Automotive Research) Facility, is usually very lightly contested due to the road race’s precedence the following day. It is also affected this year by the participation of some high-profile US ProTour riders in the Vuelta A Espana (Tour of Spain), finishing this weekend. Reigning USPRO Champion, Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions) will not be defending his three consecutive titles because of his inclusion in the Vuelta.
Two of the riders being favored for the victory at the Time Trial were Phinney and Leipheimer. The two joked about the “young dude vs. the old guy” comparison and Leipheimer was ribbed about not wearing a proper skinsuit in the Tour of Utah Time Trial (which Phinney won), but both were very humble, and being the consummate professionals that they are, stated that “anyone could win.”
Of the riders attending the press conference, Hincapie was, without question, the rider that any smart cycling fan would put their money on for the race on Sunday. “Big George” said that the Paris Mountain climb was “his climb,” and that he rides it daily while training on the roads of Greenville County.
This year, unlike years past, Hincapie has a big team to support his quest for a fourth USPRO title. The most team help that Hincapie has had in the past has been one or two team riders and maybe a ProTour alliance with some other lone riders. Having won the race in Greenville on two previous occasions with the cards stacked against him, it’s safe to say that the odds are in George’s favor, and the sparks will definitely fly this weekend in Greenville.
Here’s the link to the recorded footage of the LIVE broadcast from the USPRO Kickoff Press Conference this afternoon:
*Cross-posted at http://www.veloreviews.com