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A Letter From George Hincapie

Saturday mornings will always hold a special place in my memory for my brother Rich and me. Not because of sleeping in late and watching cartoons—Saturday mornings were for bike racing. My dad would wake us up at 4:00 AM and we’d be on the road by 4:15 heading to Prospect Park in Brooklyn. We’d line up alongside lots of other juniors ready to push ourselves to the limits. Nothing teaches you to be a better bike racer than being in a group of 200 other kids all with a thirst to come out on top.

Today, bike races, in general, are harder to find on the road circuit, and junior races are even harder. My 13-year-old son Enzo has started racing, and I am so proud of his enjoyment of the sport I love. But sadly, finding junior races on Saturday mornings has become more of a challenge than the race itself.

Bike racing as a junior propelled both me and my brother into cycling careers; me as a professional bike racer and Rich as a cycling event organizer and promoter. This year we are excited to use our Gran Fondo Hincapie series as a way to promote Junior cycling by adding the Gran Fondo Hincapie Junior Challenge. We’ve always offered free or discounted entries for juniors in our local Hincapie Spring Series races that we’ve put on for 25 years, but since our Gran Fondos attracts people from all over the world we knew we would get more visibility and participation there. And so we’ve added the Junior Challenge as a component of the Gran Fondo this year in our hometown of Greenville, SC on October 23.

We’ve partnered with USA Cycling to head up event promotion, and have had support pouring in from friends and sponsors to be able to offer a prize purse of $10,000, split as equal payout for men and women—the largest junior purse in the world! With a start corral separate from the rest of the Gran Fondo participants, moto officials, and KOM prizes, we’re hoping to bring back the excitement of those early morning New York City races with a huge field of young cyclists battling it out for a podium finish.

I hope you and your family will come out and support our event. If you can’t make it to Greenville this year, go ahead and plan for one of our Gran Fondo events next year—the Junior Challenge will be a permanent addition to the weekend schedule for each one.

–George Hincapie