They say you should keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. When seven-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong makes his official comeback to top-level professional racing at the Tour Down Under in January, he will have to face former loyal aide George Hincapie.
Organisers of the South Australian race have announced that Hincapie (pictured) will be lining up for the Columbia squad and for the first time in his long career will be a direct competitor to his former boss Armstrong.
Hincapie was Armstrong's lieutenant in the US Postal/Discovery Channel team, and could often be seen leading the Texan up mountains and helping to control the peloton on his behalf. There's no doubt Hincapie was a key player in Armstrong's seven Tour wins, but now that Armstrong has re-emerged and signed with Astana, Hincapie will have to square up to him as a rival.
However, it's unlikely that Hincapie will be out to win the race based on the roads around Adelaide - he'll be there to help team-mate and 2008 TDU winner Andre Greipel defend his title. But perhaps the two Americans will be checking out each other's form for the season ahead - particularly as Armstrong has expressed an interest in riding the Spring Classics, which is firmly Hincapie territory.
The six-stage Tour Down Under takes place from January 18-25 in Adelaide, South Australia, and is the first event in the Union Cycliste Internationale's 2009 ProTour calendar.
Team Columbia's 2009 Tour Down Under squad
Directeur Sportif: Alan Peiper (Aus)
Andre Greipel (Ger)
George Hincapie (USA)
Michael Rogers (Aus)
Bernhard Eisel (Aut)
Mark Renshaw (Aus)
Greg Henderson (NZ)
Adam Hansen (Aus)
Armstrong to meet Tour officials before deciding on participation
Armstrong still playing it cool over Tour
Armstrong says he could not have hoped for a different Tour
Contador to stay with Astana and Armstrong
Lance Armstrong's Tour de France comeback in doubt
Armstrong to ride the 2009 Giro d'Italia
Armstrong rejects offer to re-test 1999 samples
Armstrong knew about six month rule
French offer Armstrong re-test of his 1999 Tour samples
Amrstrong hopes UCI show 'common sense' for Aussie return
Armstrong comeback in Tour Down Under faces possible delays
Watch Armstrong in Vegas 'Cross race
Armstrong confirms Ventoux time trial for 2009?
Armstrong's comeback starts in Australia
Wednesday Comment (September 24)
Contador says riding with Lance could be difficult
UCI president rubbishes Armstrong Tour buyout claims
Bruyneel talks up Armstrong's chances
The Wednesday Comment, Armstrong Edition (September 10)
Tour de France: Lance can race in 2009
Contador: Lance could win eighth Tour
Lance confirms 2009 comeback
Armstrong: No smoke without fire?
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Nigel Wynn worked as associate editor on CyclingWeekly.com, he worked almost single-handedly on the Cycling Weekly website in its early days. His passion for cycling, his writing and his creativity, as well as his hard work and dedication, were the original driving force behind the website’s success. Without him, CyclingWeekly.com would certainly not exist on the size and scale that it enjoys today. Nigel sadly passed away, following a brave battle with a cancer-related illness, in 2018. He was a highly valued colleague, and more importantly, n exceptional person to work with - his presence is sorely missed.
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