There are plenty of promising young riders in the race this year — Sagan, van Garderen, Talansky, a bevy of future Hinaults, and Quintana, who yesterday surely gladdened the heart of Garçia Marquez — but let’s give a nod to a couple of the old guys: Jens ‘Shut Up Legs’ Voigt, 41, riding for Radio Shack Leopard with six kids at home, and Stuart O’Grady, 39, who vows to retire next year after setting the record at 18 Tour finishes.
And one more, whose absence this year doesn’t feel quite right: the great George Hincape. Domestique is too weak a word to describe who he was — a brave rider and a noble teammate. He retired last summer. In October he apologized for using banned substances for part of his career, and his results from 2004 – 2006 were voided: three years when he finished 33rd, 13th, and 32nd. He withdrew from his first Tour in 1996, and then completed 16 consecutive races, generally finishing between 50th and 80th place. Out of about 336 total stages, he won once. He finished in the top 10 in many of the other European classics, second in the notorious Paris–Roubaix. We miss him, but take consolation that he married one of those French beauties who grace the podium at the end of each day’s race. Not bad for a kid from Queens, who discovered his love for the sport riding in Central Park.