George Hincapie's near miss at Tour de France might be an advantage

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(See also: July 2 — George Hincapie in yellow jersey at Tour de France)

Discovery's George Hincapie missed taking the yellow jersey by a split second in the 4.4-mile prologue of the Tour de France on Saturday.

“Disappoint” was the root word chosen to describe the feelings of those involved. But I think in the long term — and that's what winning the Tour is all about — not gaining the yellow jersey a good thing.

At the Paceline website (registration required), Chris Brewer talked with Johan Bruyneel:

“Today was definitely a disappointment when you come so close, especially in the Prologue because you know if you win you have the yellow jersey. And George was very focused, motivated, and confident he could have won and I think he did a perfect ride.

“For us it would have been a huge thing to have the yellow jersey after all those (Lance) years, and now it's very unlikely to regain it because (Thor) Hushovd is fast and he wants it, (Tom) Boonen is close and he wants it going into Belgium. “

“But that's the way it is and so we have to see the good things in the day and that's that he's there and in shape, Paolo is there, Eki had a good ride and we're leading the Team GC.”

What does Hincapie say about his 2nd place finish? He told the Associated Press:

“Today was my first big objective, so I'm a little disappointed …This is the first year I'm going to try and see what I can do.”

Keep Hincapie at the front, not in lead

In spite of Bruyneel saying he's disappointed not to win the yellow jersey the first day, it's actually a big advantage overall and I'm sure Bruyneel realizes this.

If Hincapie had won the yellow, the Disco team would have had to expend energy over the next few days to protect it.

What the heck. Let Credit Agricole do the work at the front of the peloton and set up the sprints for Hushovd. The first few days is always crash and burn in the mass sprints anyway; keep Hincapie and the other Discovery contenders out of the fray. Then, when the peloton starts hitting some terrain, the Discovery team — led by Hincapie? — can pounce.

When did Bruyneel ever concern himself about getting yellow early in the Tour? For seven years he just made sure Lance Armstrong stayed near the front.

Sounds like that's still a good plan.

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