LEWISTON — Just weeks after breaking his collarbone in the Tour de France — and finishing in 19th place despite four days of crushing shoulder pain — cyclist George Hincapie is planning a leisurely bike ride around Lewiston-Auburn.

The five-time Olympian committed Wednesday to accompanying actor Patrick Dempsey in the 50-mile portion of the Dempsey Challenge, a two-day fundraiser planned for Oct. 3 and 4.

“I think I’ll probably be sitting back and taking it easy,” Hincapie said in a conference call Wednesday from his home in Greenville, S.C. The interview was conducted by an executive with Medalist Sports, which is managing the event.

The event is meant as a fundraiser for the Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing, founded by the “Grey’s Anatomy” actor and Buckfield native. Dempsey started the center at Central Maine Medical Center in April 2008 as a response to his mother’s two bouts of ovarian cancer.

Hincapie recently lost his uncle Haime to throat cancer. He was also inspired by watching Lance Armstrong thrive after his cancer. Finding the tools to maintain hope and combat the disease are critical, Hincapie said.

“That’s important to me, and if I am able to take part in events like that, I do it without any issues,” he said.

Getting the invitation from Dempsey, a cyclist and cycling fan, made it even easier to accept the invitation to Maine, he said.

“He’s come out to support us in the Tour of California and the Tour de France,” Hincapie said. “It’s a big honor to have him come out and watch the races that I’m doing. When he invited me to come do this event it was very easy to say, ‘Yes.'” It’s for a great cause.”

So far, the event, which also includes a 5K walk/run, has drawn about 1,600 participants.

The planned cycling route extends
through Poland, Raymond, Naples, Bridgton, Harrison,
Casco and Otisfield, then back through Poland and Auburn to Lewiston.

At least one other world-class cyclist, three-time U.S. Time Trial champion David Zabriskie, has committed to the event. And Lance Armstrong has still not been ruled out, said Mike Turcotte, a spokesman for the challenge.

During each of Armstrong’s wins, Hincapie was bicycling nearby as a teammate. The two are currently on different teams. Hincapie is on Team Columbia and Armstrong is creating Team Radio Shack, which will race next year. Armstrong, who finished third overall this year, has committed to return to the Tour de France.

Hincapie said he, too, is looking forward to racing again.

“I’m not clear to race yet, but I’m definitely on the healing process,” he said. He is hoping to compete in the USA Cycling Pro Championships, scheduled for later this month in his hometown.

He is unsure how intensely he will be able to compete so soon after his crash.

After all, when the crash occurred four days before the conclusion of the Tour de France, he did his best to ignore getting a full diagnosis. That kind of information stops races.

“I didn’t want to know the extent of the damage, so I found out afterwards,” he said.

He later posted the X-ray of his broken collarbone on his Web site, www.georgehincapie.com.

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