You might question whether the Hincapie fall is worthy of a second-angle gif, but I’d say yes. This was an important crash; a Big Deal for several reasons:
- Trek never would have let this happen to Lance. They’d have custom-engineered a spaceship fork for him, one that you could railgun off the moon without breaking. Slapping on some commuter OEM and calling it a day was a microcosm for how sponsors treated him vs. the rest of the sport.
- Cancellara eventually won this edition, but he wasn’t yet Cancellara as we know him. Hincapie had two teammates in this group of ~12. He’d lost 3-up sprint to Boonen the year before. If Hincapie was ever going to win, this was the day.
- I watched this race live on Cycling.TV, legitimately, but missed this crash because Cycling.TV was—and I can only assume remains—a buggy and difficult-to-manage product. This year’s NBCSN stream will be my first live, legit viewing (fingers crossed!) since.
- This was the last, twitter-free Roubaix (the service came of age in March ‘07, at SxSW). I remember being pinned to the live updates on Cyclingnews waiting for Cycling.TV to work again, reading this update and thinking it must have been a joke. Can you even imagine it? A race narrated by just a single text voice?
- Hincapie also chose to ride deep-section carbon rims this year—one of the first to try them at the classics and they weren’t the point of failure. It must have inspired others, as there were a lot of broken rims over the next several seasons. Carbon’s gotten much better, but despite the obituaries, box sections still refuse to die. I know which I’d chose, if for no other reason than I lack a car full of replacements.
- Hincapie comes amazingly close to riding this out to a slower, softer fall (presumably onto his side) in that field. Only the loose-swinging handle bars catching in the spokes of his front wheel prevent him from making the Save of All Saves.