Congratulations George!!!!

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I just took a 4-day break from our little marketing world to help cover the USA Cycling pro championships right here in Greenville, SC. (The event has been held in Philadelphia for the last 21 years or so, but moved to Greenville this year.) This time around, only American riders were allowed to participate, which made this a true American championship.

To bring you up to speed on why this is relevant to my little world, here's the skinny:

1. I'm a cyclist.
2. George Hincapie (see below) lives and trains in Greenville.
3. George's brother Rich (also below) is a good friend.
4. F360 (the studio/agency behind the brandbuilder blog) was hired to help cover the event. (Yes, we're the original jacks of all trades.)
5. Shooting stuff like this can get kind of crazy, but it's also a whole lot of fun.

And finally, after George's awful luck this year, this was his chance to turn things around and grab that elusive silver lining. Not being there to at least cheer him on and document the event would have been... unthinkable.

Anyway. Long story short: This was one of the most unbelievable bike race I have ever experienced (with vast majority of the field not even finishing). After over four hours of battling a grueling course, only three guys remained. That was it. Three guys. One of them was Levi Leipheimer (one of the best cyclists in the world)... but in the end, George prevailed.

So George, congrats!!! You did it!!! Without EPO, without testosterone injections, without steroids. Just hard work, perseverance, guts... You just did it.

Way to take it back, buddy. You made us all very proud. This is for you:

Above: George climbs Paris Mountain with the peloton's lead. Only twenty miles into the race, many of the riders have already been dropped on the way to the summit. Those who survive this lap will get to race to the top four more times before the end of the race.

Below: George crosses the finish line in the rain with only one short lap to go. Just behind him is Levi, who is setting up his last attack.

Above: George stops to hug his very excited parents and family just seconds after winning the US Championship.
Below: George and his brother Rich share some well-deserved smiles.

Above: George thanks his fans.
Below: George and Melanie share a moment under a storm of camera flashes.

PS: Special thanks to Roby, Holly, Seth, Rich, Steve, Frank, George, Melanie, USA Cycling, Medalist Sports, Go Magazine, Hampton, The Cliffs, Charter Comunications, all of the fans, and everyone who worked to bring the event to Greenville and helped make it a huge success.

Some of our shots are on flickr.

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