George Hincapie wants nothing more than to emerge victorious at Paris-Roubaix. This year, 2006, everything looked to be going Hincapie’s way. A major selection emerged after the Forest of Arenberg, and George appeared to be in the driver’s seat. Two strong teammates with him. Boonen isolated. Then, the inexplicable happened. As we all know, his steerer tube went “snappy snappy” leaving George in tears. A collective gasp spread through the cycling world…George is undoubtedly cursed. And he has been for some time.
1992(?): Georgeous George wins a stage of the Tour DuPont as an amateur, then is relegated to last for dangerous riding in the field sprint. Cursed.
1997: Hincapie wins the USPRO title…for 30 minutes. Then he’s disqualified for drafting a team vehicle following a flat tire late in the race. Cursed.
1998: Tour de France stage 3. Hincapie misses the yellow jersey by 2 seconds. Cursed.
2000: Sydney Olympic Games. Ullrich, Kloden, and Vinokourov TTT away from the field. Mysteriously, Hincapie and Armstrong do not realize the T-Mobile trio have rolled into the gold,silver, bronze sunset and think that their chase group is the gold medal group. Until Armstong looks on the Jumbo-tron and says, ” I saw that there were three riders in front of us and I said ‘George, who are those three?’” George’s reply was predictable and will not be printed here. Cursed.
2002: Hincapie initiates the winning break at Ghent-Wevelgem and looks to have it all wrapped up. Then Mario Cipollini, out of the blue, bridges to the break and torches everybody for victory. It is the only victory Cipo has ever taken which wasn’t a field sprint. Hincapie? Cursed.
2002: Hincapie eats it in a ditch at Paris-Roubaix, nearly drowns, and has to see his punk teammate Tom Boonen get on the podium. Yeah, George is cursed.
2005: Paris-Roubaix. The final three. Hincapie, Boonen, Flecha. George, “I can win…I can win…I can win…”. Nope. Cursed.
Bobby Julich may be flying high now with CSC, but things haven’t always been so peachy…
1991 and 1992 were spectacular seasons for the young, amateur Julich having twice finished in the Tour DuPont GC top-ten. Gatorade, the team of Gianni Bugno, came calling. Julich, not knowing a word of Italian and feeling a wee bit nervous about Europe at age 20, said no. His team for the 1993 season went belly up in January of that year. Oops. Say hello to a year of misery as a privateer in the US. Cursed.
1995: Julich given a no confidence vote by Motorola and is unable to ride the Tour DuPont. Instead of racing with the big boys, Julich shows up angry and fearsomely fit at Tour de Moore. Double curse. Julich?–denied his stage race, Me?–I get to feel his wrath first-hand for 105 miles.
1996: Julich has to undergo heart surgery at Duke University to remedy uncontrollable heart rate accelerations. Cursed.
1999: Tour de France. Lance wins. Julich crashes out in the time trial. Cursed.
2000: Tour de France. Smacked around by Jeroen Blijlevens after finishing in Paris. You should have squashed that goon. Cursed.
2004: Tour de France stage 13. Bobby goes back to the CSC car to fetch some bottles and is taken out by Bjarne. D’oh. Cursed.
2005: Fred-ly chainrings make their way on to Julich’s bike. Cursed.
Lance Armstrong. Well, one can’t be more cursed than a cancer death sentence.
All of these calamities may seem random, unrelated, and just all-around, old-fashioned bad luck. Not so, I say. I have definitive proof that these 3 poor souls’ lives were forever altered by the Performance Bicycle cover curse. Forget Sports Illustrated, the Perf catalog is far more wicked mojo. George, Lance, Bobby–they’re all there (and some other random dude on the left who’s so cursed I don’t even know who he is. His mere existence has been stricken from all memory.) And they’re all cursed.
Image source: Performance Bicycle
Just how does one neutralize the cover curse? Lance knows. Bobby didn’t quite know, but employed a pretty successful Plan B (the miracle man, Bjarne Riis). George? Well, George hasn’t figured it out yet.
The Lance Solution: In the closing stages of Lance’s 7th consecutive victory at the Tour de France, something rather peculiar began making public appearances in the Lance camp. Lots and lots of cryptic pictograms, creepy enought to make Proctor & Gamble conspiracy freaks blush. A rather nefarious looking responsible party emerged for interviews (”Lenny Futura”? How about “Louis Cyphre”).
The cat was out of the bag.
All of that miracle Tour de France luck on display since the ‘99 TdF can be traced back to Lance fighting fire with fire and conjuring up more potent juju to negate the Cover Curse. Says Lance, “Hey, you can’t test positive for voodoo. Suck on that, UCI.” Lance’s minions were constantly battling Armstrong in those final days of the Tour, insisting that seemingly benign arrangements of symbols such as these adorn his top tube:
However, what Lance really wanted to unveil to the world was this setup:
Photographer: Tim Maloney
Image source: http://220.127.116.11/photos/2005/tour05/tech/?id=bikes4/cntdf05-techla7-1
Lance says, “This particular arrangement is titled ‘Seething Rage’…Translation: ‘I hate Christian Vandevelde, I hate Filippo Simeoni, I hate Dave Zabriskie, I hate Floyd Landis, and I hate Roberto Heras.’ May you all break collarbones, crash into walls, crash in TTTs, put your arm through glass doors, adopt goofy time trial positions, forever suck in le Tour, and fail drug tests.” And now that Lance has gotten antsy and fidgety less than a year into his retirement, I’d watch myself if I happened to be a world-class marathoner. Lance has you in his crosshairs and he’s playing for keeps.